Where do I start an essay of summarizing all my feelings, experiences and the changes this volunteering has brought into my life? To be honest, I feel like this is a harder nut to crack than writing for grades, even though this time I do not have to count the words, cite wise quotes or pay close attention to all the linguistic aspects. Channelling the immense amount of memories and experiences onto one page is what makes this seemingly easy task harder to cope with – but just thinking of these things makes me realise how lucky I am to have them all!
So, how did I end up taking a gap year after high school? Let’s travel a year back in time! There I am, sitting in the comfort of my room, gazing out of my window while the monotonous sounds of the endless Zoom classes are slowly getting replaced by my swirling thoughts. I was longing to do something… something that would trigger my curiosity again, something that not only me but also other people could benefit from, something that would bring me closer to myself yet open up the world. ESC seemed to be the perfect fit. So, after half a year of procrastination, I found myself sending messages and calling my friends and family with the big news: I’ll have a go at volunteering!
The first month was like standing at the bottom of a waterfall of new information: while being a bit overwhelmed by all the new challenges, I felt that my comfort zone was constantly expanding – and at the end of the day I realised I enjoyed it! All the fantastic people I got to meet from different cultures, the joy of bonding with them while creating everlasting memories; the time I finally have for inner and literal journeys; the satisfaction of realising I can bring some happiness into other people’s lives and the love I get from them in return – these are a few of the many things due to which I never once regretted spending my gap year volunteering.
As I work in a free time centre for people with disabilities, I have the opportunity to broaden my perspectives on a whole new level. I get to know lots of interesting people (from children to the elderly) who share their stories, experiences and passions with me so that I can get an insight into what the world looks like through their eyes.
However, of course, everything cannot be bubbly and perfect all the time. After a while, the days can get a bit monotonous, motivation might be fluctuating, challenges might seem too hard to overcome. These experiences may be discouraging sometimes, on the other hand, they are just natural parts of life – without them, one could not appreciate the moments of joy, success and excitement.
Coming to the end of my essay, I’m wondering how much more I could have written: about small or significant things, memories I hope I will never forget, all the trips I went on from here – the list is endless. But I think it really is impossible to summarize everything that happened to me since my plane landed in Germany – and maybe that isn’t even the point. This time, it might be enough that it was honest and true, and while it is already a lot, I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.
Emöke is hosted by Friedehorst Teilhabe Leben gGmbH on our project financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.