Five days of gratitude, actually. And it doesn’t have much to do with the fact that the seminar took place in Hamburg, a city that to me, a person who lived in Gdańsk for 6 years, brings a sense of home and familiarity that makes my heart ache (in a nostalgic, bitter-sweet way).
No, most of all it was a time to self-reflect and appreciate the project I’m in. Aside from fulfilling all of the official criteria, my project offers me way more than they are obliged to. I have my coretasks, but once I’m done with them I can work on my own projects, get involved in the ones that are already happening within the organisation or learn some German with no stress and no deadlines.
I’m managing social media – that’s the constant part of my volunteering work. But that’s not all – I take part in seminars conducted by my organisation, helping out with youth exchanges, preparing posters and other materials for events, stepping into the role of a photographer during some of them, taking part in social initiatives and last but not least – having fun with the wonderful people I work with.
I am lucky.
My German got significantly better since my arrival and everyone is very helpful in this linguistic area of mine, patiently explaining things to me and elaborating on the differences between "Becher" and "Tasse" with a sprinkle of "Glas" in between. At the beginning, when my German was so rusty that creating a sentence took me forever, people at my organisation were trying to speak English to make it easier for me - even if their English and my German then were at the same not-really-communicative level.
Sometimes human beings being human beings is the best thing ever.
My seminar also happened before the beginning of my own project coming to life and after a long preparation time. Feeling every day that it's becoming more and more real with every passing day was definitely something worth reflecting on. It felt scary and, for me within the context of my previous experiences, groundbreaking.
I feel like this experience was perfectly timed for me. I needed to sort out my head a bit and seminars are a wonderful opportunity to do that.
The main takes I got from the seminar are:
- I would like to explore my Slavic roots at least to some extent;
- Finding similarities between several languages I don't speak is much more fun than I would expect;
- Walking around the centre of Hamburg with no plan at all but in a great company is always a good idea;
- We are trying our best and sometimes we should cut ourselves some more slack;
- We come from many different places, speak many different languages, have so many diverse experiences and yet we find ourselves bonding over similarities.
We can celebrate both: the things in which we differ and the similarities that we share, as they both enrich us just as much.
If that's not one of the beauties of life, I don't know what is.
Now that I think about it from a perspective of three months, I feel even more grateful and happy. For the time spent together, for the exercises that helped us reflect on the project and our role in it, for the time spent in the city centre and for the group itself for being really open, supportive, fun and welcoming.
See you sometime in the future, Hamburg!