Germany's first offline ESC volunteers seminar happened since pandemic
I am writing this report on the train from Weimar to Berlin. Overall, it was a beneficial seminar for me.
In general, long-term ESC volunteers are required to participate in two seminars. Our On-Arrival Training seminar was held online via Zoom due to the situation regarding Covid-19 in February 2021. Thankfully, JUGEND für Europa / European Youth Education and Youth Meeting Center Weimar / Europäische Jugendbildungs- und Jugendbegegnungsstätte Weimar (EJBW) have decided to hold the Mid-Term Meeting seminar for ESC volunteers from 30.08.2021 to 03.09.2021, as a face-to-face event (residential event) at EJBW, Weimar. The seminar held under appropriate hygiene protection measures that we needed to wear masks in public spaces at the venue and only 2 people were placed in one room.
The Mid-Term Meeting for ESC-Volunteers is a seminar which is implemented by the European Youth Education and Meeting Center Weimar (EJBW) on behalf of the German National Agency „Jugend für Europa“ for the programme Erasmus+ Youth in Action / European Solidarity Corps.
We arrived on Monday morning in Weimar from all over Germany, and there were prepared sandwiches and drinks at the reception. The training officially started at 14:00 and our trainers Daniele from Italy and Wolfgang from Austria greeted us with a warm welcome. The most important part of the seminar for me was we had the opportunity to exchange our experiences about ESC with other volunteers. Moreover, we discussed topics about how to receive support in case of challenges and problems, and what are our wishes and goals for the remaining time in Germany and afterwards. And of course, we had a good time with the other volunteers playing some board games and energizers during the seminar.
The different aspect of this seminar was there were a space and time for us to co-create the program on the very first day. Therefore, volunteers/us created the part of the 5 days program and we spent Wednesday afternoon and whole Thursday as a city tour days. On Wednesday afternoon, I went to see the neighbouring city Erfurt, the capital and largest city in the state of Thuringia. It is located just 15 minutes from Weimar by train and Erfurt's old town is one of the best preserved medieval city centres in Germany. EJBW gave us a blue card which entitles to enter Weimar's famous touristic attractions for free of charge. Therefore, I visited the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in the morning, Bauhaus Museum Weimar in the afternoon and Buchenwald Memorial (Concentration camp of World War II) in the evening.
During the seminar, we also had the chance to get to know a member of the monitoring team of Jugend für Europa, the German National Agency. Alexei from the National Agency joined us for one day, and was available for all our questions on the topics of rights and responsibilities of all involved actors in the ESC, and also offered time for single, individual consultations. During the monitoring session, we discovered that I was the only person who did not take official Deutsch course except OLS in the room. All other volunteers went to a courses that were paid and provided by their hosting organizations. My organization and mentor (supposed to be) told me that they are not obliged to provide me a language course if I have the OLS, but the monitoring team from the German National Agency said completely opposite. So, he is going to send an email to my organization that they have to pay for my Deutsch course.
The seminar was held in both Deutsch and English because I could not understand anything in German and there were some volunteers whose Deutsch were better than their English and preferred Deutsch. Therefore, the trainers decided to translate everything what they say in both languages. I think it must have been so hard for them and time consuming for us. The original plan of the seminar was to speak German, but it changed because only I could not understand German. What a shame! I blame myself, but I blame my host organization more!