Ana in Bremen // 2nd Report

As a person who is usually responsible for posting volunteer reports on the website, I remember that special feeling when posting second reports: while 4 months is still a relatively long period, I always wondered what it was like to realise that you only have half as much time left as you’ve already spent here.

And now, standing at this threshold myself, I can confirm that it’s a very weird feeling: weird to realise that you’re not a random tourist anymore but feel more and more local, that you’re relying on Google maps much less now and advising others on which Turkish shop is better for lavash and which – for fruits and veggies, knowing at a glance which bus driver – sweet one or cranky one – you will have a pleasure to travel to KulturHaus with this time, weird to comprehend that you’re now the oldest volunteer in the office or when your coworker forgets that you’re actually a volunteer perceiving you already as a part of the core team, weird to go visit KulturHaus during the projects with the freelance facilitators constantly changing each other and realise that at this point, instead of having to introduce yourself to someone new every time, you just go to hug and exchange a few laughs with people you already know well and whom you already have warm memories with, weird to go to the airport to see off the person who picked you up at the same airport 8 months ago, to realise how far you’ve come in your relationship with people and surely very weird to acknowledge that in 4 months you’ll probably have to leave behind everything you’ve built here and move again. And yes, one more weird thing: having not left Georgia for longer than a month in 24 years of my life, I now have to witness maybe the most crucial turning point in my country’s modern history from 3000 km away, watching Instagram stories of my friends going to the protests every day, while only being able to repost them myself. Yes, it makes me feel weird and also very helpless.

And it’s probably only the love and support from the people here that even in this turbulent period can lift my spirits and not let me forget how lucky I am to be here now and share this journey with everyone surrounding me. Not a day at the office goes by without someone making me smile with their jokes; almost every evening ends with a gathering at someone’s place or going out to a favourite pub; weekends mostly plan themselves at this point with spontaneous ideas to go somewhere outside the city or just for an ice-cream with flatmates. 

Work also exposes me to all sorts of fun: supporting my coworker with carrying out workshops for the local youth, I also get to try out kayaking and hunting for geocaches. At the same time (literally), in the light of the upcoming EU elections, I had the luck to be involved in the organisation of the largest European Festival in Bremen; furthermore, together with my Ukrainian friend, we decided not to lose our chance and set up “mock elections” for the non-EU citizens residing in Bremen. I’ve also had an opportunity to shadow-facilitate at a youth exchange (kitchen therapy, aka chopping onions and crying included) and, of course, I’m always there for the volunteers coming to Bremen for their seminars, taking them out for a fun city tour and providing them with the opportunity to get dirty while supporting local community garden with their daily chores.

Sometimes I regret not keeping a diary, which I would fill with all the adventures from this year, like stepping into the North Sea in February (thanks, Quechua, those boots are indeed waterproof) or travelling for 9.5 hours to Heidelberg and staying in a local commune where people don’t lock their flats. But I guess this would be too much of discipline to ask from myself, so instead I have a phone filled with thousands of random pictures and videos capturing places where I felt joy and the people who brought that joy to me. And I believe that there are many more of them to come in the next 4 months, regardless of what follows.

Until then / bis bald,

 Ana is hosted by NaturKultur e.V. on our project co-funded by the European Union.