One day can change your entire life. So just imagine how much will change when you spent 10 months in a country with a new culture, a different language and people you never met before.
Hey, my name is Antonia and I am a nineteen years old volunteer from the south of Germany.
I live in Skopje, Macedonia where my main work takes part in the school “D-r Zlatan Sremec” where I work with children with disabilities of every age.
The last months I was especially working with low functioning autistic children from 3rd till 6th grade and they really changed my view about life and people. Most of them don’t know how to fit in the frame of society so they can not be included in many actions that happen outside. But shouldnt we try to make the world a place for everyone? Where no one is excluded or seen as different. Because what even means “being normal”?
All of us human beings are unique and special and we are all different from each other because we all have our special needs, wishes and behaviours.
But what I can say for sure about the children I am working with is that there is always something to laugh about because they have ideas no one else would think about and they have so much love to give.
Of course it’s also a fact that sometimes it can be difficult. They search for attention in every possible way what can end up (physically) hurtful for themselves and people around them.
Life besides work is very spectacular too. My co-volunteers who work with my hosting organsiation “volunteers center skopje” organzie a lot of events like karaoke, pub quizes or speed friending where always a lot of people gather to have fun and find new friends.
Every day I find out more about the people and culture here.
In those 10 months I was spending here already I learned so much about myself, other people, how strangers can become family, how learning a language together can connect and which huge impact people can have in your life.
But to be honest I met not only friendly people here. That’s totally normal because you can not be liked by everyone and sometimes people just have a bad day and its hard to be nice. An important lesson for me was to learn that sometimes its just unnecessary to use your energy for trying to show others that you are a good enough when they don’t see your worth.
Sometimes you just need to know which people you want to be surrounded by in your life. Because you only have this one life and everyday should be a new possibility to do something good, to change yourself to a better person and to just be happy.
Besides that I also went for a little visit back to Germany. It was an incredibly beautiful feeling to see my family, neighbours and friends after 10 months of not being in my hometown. Especially after being in a way more poor country than Germany you learn to appreciate those things you have. I learned how to live with the most necessary things, not more and not less. Anyways in my whole time in Macedonia I became the happiest version of myself. Even without many resources.
But to be back and realize how it feels to have a big and comfortable bed, an oven that is actually baking how it should, a bathtub,… was a feeling that made me kinda cry because I really realized how thankful I can be about the life I live.
“Grateful for small things, big things and everything in between”
Antonia is hosted on the project “See the human behind you – volunteering as a tool to support inclusion”, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and the National Agency for European Educational Programs and Mobility of North Macedonia.