Gabriel in Bremen // 1st Report

My name is Gabriel Domínguez, I am 20 years old. I come from Gijón, a small city in the North coast of Spain. When I was 3 years old my family moved to Brussels in Belgium where we stayed 9 years. I did all my Primary studies in the European School. Then we moved back to Spain where I did Secondary school.

I finished my high school in 2022 and I started a university degree in Journalism in Pamplona. Very soon I realized that these studies didn´t correspond to my interests and inclinations and I decided to drop them out. It was a difficult and defiant moment because I didn’t´ know what to do. I had to decide about my future. The idea of spending a gap year in a European country tempted me as, at the end of the day, I feel that Europe is my true home. I had heard about the European volunteering programme through the social worker at my old school. I explored this possibility and I realized that one of my best options was to work as volunteer. 

It was July and the offers available at that moment were two schools, one in Denmark and another one in Germany. I applied to both. As I have studied German in high school the perspective of living for a year in Germany was appealing because it offered me the possibility of improving my knowledge of German language and culture. Soon in July, Tobias Schule trough Bremen-NaturKultur got in touch with me, showing interest in my application. Tobias Schule is a special school for disabled kids, from 7 to 18 years, where they do professional studies and improve their social skills in a very special educational atmosphere that promotes contact with people, nature and environment.

I landed in Bremen at the beginning of September and were welcome by Naturkultur. On 10th September I started my new job in Tobias Schule and, for 5 months, I worked as assistant teacher. I also collaborated with ideas and work during the lessons, taking part in them as well as helping the kids in different sports. I participated in numerous activities that went from archery to gymnastics, basketball. I had the opportunity to share the school life with children and teachers in the classrooms, canteen, playground, forest, etc. 

By the end of January i started working in Freizei Gröpelingen which is a leisure centre for young people from the neighbourhood, where they can do all sort of activities from playing cards, chess or checkers to training different sports. Its location is very convenient for me as it is in a walking distance from our flat. In this new place my job consists on organizing basketball trainings. I am also participating in cooking workshops, board games etc. I am very happy to work in a young environment and in an organisation where my opinions and feedback are taking into account. Working in a group of peers is helping me to mature as it stimulates my creativity and motivation, improves my communication skills and clarify my future expectations. There are many things that young people can do here, the atmosphere is relaxed and we can help teenagers to discover new interests and hobbies. The club also offers special events every now and then. Almost all offers are free of charge and everyone can participate. 

In my free time in Bremen, I’ve grown fond of climbing where I spend most of my free time and where I have made some friends. I have also visited the town, the secret outlet stores and the little museums. The banks of the river are among my favourite walking places. I’ve also made some friends on my On-Arrival-Training where I met volunteers that came from different parts of the world. Next week I am starting a German course where I hope to consolidate what I have orally learnt.

Among the many new things of the year, living in a shared flat is perhaps the most significant challenge. The fact of sharing the communal areas of a house, the cleaning, the fridge or the kitchen has contributed to my maturing process. Having roommates in a similar situation to mine help me to share experiences and teach me to solve problems. At the same time, the experience is contributing to learning languages, knowing about new cultures and that has gave me a much more open view of the world.

Finally, I would like to thank the EU Volunteer Program and NaturKultur for this opportunity where I am learning about how to manage myself to get to the end of the month, to cook, to share tasks with colleagues, to organize without my family reminding me every day… It has been greet till now and I have great expectations to continue taking responsibility for my own life and offering people some of my knowledge in the coming months.

Gabriel is hosted by Junge Stadt gGmbH on our project financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.