I had a lot of thoughts in my mind before I came here for this year that I will spend as a volunteer. When I look back after coming here and spending three months here, I see that I was not wrong to be excited. I had graduated from university in June the year before I moved to Bremen and was questioning what I wanted to do with my career.
I decided to calm down the part of me that wanted to be admitted to the academy as soon as possible and to try to create a new experience for myself, to fulfill my desire to live in another country. My thought of moving to Germany started at that time, and on the one hand, I started learning German on my own. Then one day my cousin sent me a post she saw on Facebook and said ‘I think you should apply for it’. Turkey was not among the countries required for application, but I knew that I had most of the qualifications required by the institution. I filled out the form and started to wait with excitement. Afterwards, we had an interview, I learned that I was selected and I started the visa process. I don’t know how to describe it, but I can’t forget the moment I opened that e-mail and saw the text that I was selected and how I felt at that moment. I can’t deny that I’m worried. In fact, I was so worried that I cancelled the first plane ticket I bought to come here a few hours before the flight. I must say that it is not easy to start a new life. Nevertheless, I re-evaluated why I wanted to go on this journey and bought a plane ticket again. Afterwards, I spent my remaining days in Istanbul as full as possible and tried to make the process easier for myself. When my journey ended in Bremen, I had a feeling that this ending would be brand new beginnings.
As a matter of fact, it happened. For a long time, I feel like I’m getting closer to myself. Seeing that my thoughts about my body have changed in a positive way, learning to look at myself and my environment more positively. I am seeing that my coping strategies have improved when I have difficulties and that I am turning into a more solution-oriented person. I am trying to enjoy every day and moment. I observe that I enjoy doing things alone. I am more compassionate towards myself even though there are things that force me. It is very precious that one year of my life has intersected with such a period. During this time period, I traveled and participated in festivals. For the first time in my life, I participated in the Pride parade. In my travels, I observe that the perspective of being open to discovery and innovation that comes with the volunteer experience affects my life the most. There have been people who have come into my life here and with whom I have been able to establish a close relationship that I cannot simply label as a ‘volunteer I met here’. It would be very correct to express them as ‘friend family’. So far, I have spent a period of time where I was accepted as myself, did a job that really pleased me, and built a life for myself, and I am very happy that this continues. In fact, no one ever heard me complain about my job.
On the contrary, sometimes when I talk too much about my workplace, I advise people to stop me. For example, the attitudes of my colleagues towards me and the mentality of my workplace are among the things that affect me the most. For the first time, I have observed that the rhetoric ‘everyone working here is equal’ has such an equivalent in practice. I have to point out how important it is to do a job you love and to be in a healthy and welcoming work environment for a person’s psychological well-being. I can easily see the positive effects of this in my own life. By nature, I am a person who likes to be busy with several things at the same time. My workplace is incredibly well suited for this. I have a few tasks where I can both take part in workshops, deal with social media, take videos and photos at concerts/theatre plays. I had the chance to work with refugee children from many countries at Kreativ Workshops.
In this process, I experienced that many taboos about myself were broken. Although I love working with children, I had concerns about how I could work with children whose languages I did not know. But it would not be wrong to say that almost all of my worries were in vain. I learned to make a sculpture on my own for the first time at the Skulpture Workshop, where I was involved for a week only with the intention of accompanying the young people who will come there. For example, we did a theatre project for a week with students at a school here. I told the story of one of the children who came to our Kreativ Workshops so many times that I finally had the opportunity to write the story of Setayesh and publish it in our magazine with the encouragement of my mentor. I cannot express in words how much this means to me. For this reason, I am grateful for the institution I work for and for everything I have tried to do here.
I have to end here, where I try to convey what I have experienced in the past months as best I can, I am looking forward to new experiences!
Esra is hosted by Kulturzentrum Schlachthof Bremen on our project financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.