Miriam in Thessaloniki, Greece // 1st Report

My name is Miriam and I am 29 years old.

Two years ago it became clear to me that (before I turn 30) I want to explore the possibilities which the Erasmus + world has to offer. So I decided to go abroad for an ESC. Because I was already involved in different Erasmus + project I saw this as an opportunity to get involved with Erasmus + work within a big organization. 

My background: I am a youth worker with a Bachelor degree in Theater Pedagogy and a Master degree in Applied Social Sciences. So, together with NaturKultur eV I started looking together for organizations that could host me and share the same vision kind of combination of creative methods and topics that are relevant for society. 

We found the NGO United Societies of Balkans from Thessaloniki. Everything went smooth: The project was approved and on the 3rd of May 2021 I traveled to Thessaloniki, Greece. 

I was amazed. After several quarantines, Corona waves and social isolation I was traveling again for the first time again. Generally speaking, people who visited Thessaloniki don’t really talk about it as a very beautiful city. But for me it was different: I fell in love with it. Next to prefabricated buildings that reminded me of eastern Europe you can find big byzantine Churches. Thessaloniki has a port and at the other side of the city the houses climb up the mountain which produces a quite unique image of the city itself. It’s located in a bay and when the weather is clear you can see on the other side mount f *** ing Olympus, which is quite impressive. However, there is in most of the part a big city vibe and people would describe it as dirty and non-functional. I understand why, because for example public transportation is still a mystery to me and they are building a metro system for 15 years now… There is this joke about the metro in Thessaloniki and that maybe our grand children will finally be able to use it because each time the dig into the ground they find material that could be of archaeological interest. Furthermore, some street conditions are a bit difficult, so you should watch your steps when you walk down the street, because there could be a random hole somewhere, you could fall into.

My voluntary service started with quite a lot of work at the office in front of a computer. I was supporting my colleagues with project applications, research and other digital tasks. But step by step the Covid-19 measures got lifted and we started to implement workshops again. So, I dived in and delivered one workshop about digital storytelling and several political theater workshops with human rights related topics. Another volunteer joined one of the sessions and made a video about it. You can check it out here, she made it very beautiful and professional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PegNcmdNQLw&t=1s

Furthermore, I participate in activities that got organized by other volunteers such as beach cleaning or language exchanges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgjsKb4xNN8

However, I still struggle with the Greek language and I hope to make some progress within the next month … It turns out it is quite hard to learn … But at least I can do basic things and I have the feeling everyday I understand a bit more 😊.

To sum it all up my experience so far, I already had a quite wide spectrum experiences during work. In my free time I started to explore the local are and as well I traveled to Athens for some days. I am trying to breath in as much culture I can take … to make the most of my experience.

But we will see. I will keep you updated. Over and out.

Miriam is hosted by United Societies of Balkans on the project “Global Difference Makers”, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and JUGEND für Europa.