I just finished my one-year ESC adventure a short while ago. I spent the year 2020, when our lives changed a lot, by volunteering in a kindergarten in Leipzig, Germany. First of all, let me talk about myself, and the process before I started the project.
I graduated from Dokuz Eylül University, International Relations department in 2019. A few months before graduation, I decided to apply for a long-term ESC project. At the same time, I was volunteering in the Pixel Team of Pi Youth Association. I started researching and applying to projects on the internet, but the process was not going as fast as I expected. A few months after my graduation, I prepared a well-written motivation letter both through the informative seminars organized by the association and through trial and error, and sent my application to this project I found from a Facebook group. After the first stage, I had a Skype call with the hosting organization and started waiting for their answer. Within a few weeks I got positive feedback. I think that my previous volunteering experiences with children had a positive impact on their decision.
In November, when my hosting organization contacted my sending organization (Pi Youth Association), I gathered the necessary documents and got my visa. Then suddenly I found myself with excitement in a city where I could not speak the language of. I was welcomed by my mentor at the airport and settled in my house in the city center, which is 15-20 minutes away from the kindergarten where I will volunteer. Although I had difficulties while expressing myself in the first weeks because I did not speak German, my colleagues and children always supported me in this regard. Then, over time, I started learning the language and practicing with them a lot. One month after I started my project, I spent a month in quarantine at home due to the spread of the virus to Europe.I attended the On-Arrival seminar and the language course both delayed and online. Although it may be difficult to spend a lot of time on the computer at the beginning, I guess we all got used to it this year 🙂
Despite all these delays, we did a lot of activities with children throughout the year. I read them lots of books and organized sports activities. We took walks in the forest every week, and some days we organized small trips around the city. At an event organized by my hosting organization, I read a poem by Nazım Hikmet on the stage to audience from different nationalities. I attended trips with other volunteers of the organization. I had the opportunity to travel to two other countries besides Germany with my friends, despite Corona.
During this whole process, I was in contact with my sending organization every month. I felt their support via e-mail and sometimes via Skype calls. Likewise, my hosting organization made an intense effort to find a solution to even the slightest problem and motivate us, and paid my pocket money and other expenses on time. I feel lucky to have a good year with the support of these two institutions.
During this period, I both learned a new language and got to know myself better. I had the opportunity to learn a lot about German culture and make observations. Besides our differences, I also discovered our similarities. I hope anyone who wants such an experience will experience it. Under the economic conditions we are in, I think one of the best things one can do for himself/herself is to participate in an ESC project. As long as you apply for a project that you can be motivated and suitable for your own experiences and ideals, of course there will be a positive return from one. The rest is easy anyway 🙂
Stay with love and health!
The Volunteer of ESC-016 Germany Project “Aslıhan Şal”
Pi Gençlik Derneği (Pi Youth Association)