#6 EV(al)S: We’ve built us a monument
Finally. I am here. I am sitting by my laptop to write a few words concluding the adventure of my life. The end of the year? Yeah, too. But what gave me the real impact and inspiration was… another me. Almost 40 clones of me that I met at the EVS evaluation meeting in Konstancin-Jeziorna (can a Polish city sound more Polish than this?). Seriously, these folks were so alike! Same mindset, same vibe, same hearts. You know, somehow my EVS in Berlin was almost flawless. Both my seminars/trainings (Hamburg and Munich) were amazing, all the people I met there were fantastic. And this EVS eval weekend for Polish volunteers now? It was the best icing on the cake one can imagine (“truskawka na torcie” hehe).
I dedicate this last article to all the lovely, warm, awesome, inspiring, energetic, smart, creative, good people I met during my entire EVS journey – both in Germany and Poland, including foreign volunteers I met before EVS, who inspired me to take this step. You know who you are.
As I looove music and it was/is a very important part of my life (not only) during my EVS, I will write this post referring to lyrics of German songs I got to know over the last year. For the purpose of this text, I will interpret them my way. Normally, I don’t pay attention to lyrics, but this time it is different. As the whole EVS experience was so different. It was all just something totally else.
YouTube playlist with all 12 songs: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRHIf0t3a8zcCvzTCA_YsbY88ZyFRxYWE
Alles neu / Everything new (song by Peter Fox, 2008: https://youtu.be/qdtLCfEcPL4)
Hey, alles glänzt, so schön neu. / Hey, everything shines, so new
Hey, wenn's dir nicht gefällt, mach neu! / Hey, if I don't like it, I'll start anew
Die Welt mit Staub bedeckt, doch ich will seh'n, wo's hingeht, / The world cover with dust, but I want to see where it's leading to
Steig' auf den Berg aus Dreck, weil oben frischer Wind weht. / Climb on the mountain of dirt, because up there a fresh wind blows
Although it was dark, gloomy, a bit rainy and cold already when I came to Berlin for my project in November, although my room was tiny and shabby (and my organisation’s office a bit too haha), my life was all kinda fresh and shiny. It was all cool and exciting. On my birthday I went to IKEA and bought myself the cheapest desk for my room. Brand new piece of furniture for 9,90 euro.
Irgendwie Irgendwo Irgendwann / Anyhow, anywhere, anytime (song by Nena, 1984: https://youtu.be/oas5nAlfrwg)
Im Sturz durch Raum und Zeit, / When you fall through space and time
Richtung Unendlichkeit / Towards unending time
Fliegen Motten in das Licht / As moths fly to the light
Genau wie du und ich / They’re just like you and I
Time. I have a different perspective on time now. During my EVS I could gather my thoughts and understand better myself and the world I live in alike. The notion of time was always present in my thinking. Fascinating, but also terrifying thing. I was very motivated to learn German. I wanted to learn it as quick as possible. Time. Traditional learning from books, grammar and stuff, ok, too, but apps, websites, TV as well. I thought I could watch a German series. I found 'Dark' on Netflix. The purpose was to learn and listen to a bit of German. Now it is my favourite show and I cannot wait too watch the second season.
Favourite words in German (learnt through Netflix series 'Dark'): Die Vergangenheit, die Gegenwart, die Zukunft / past, present, future
Ma révolution / My revolution (song in French by Didier Awadi, 2013: https://youtu.be/gaXXzw5FgaM)
We listened to this song in my office million times as Didier Awadi is connected with my organization, which organized a concert in Berlin in the past, before I came to my project. I also interpret it here as a musical symbol of a mental, very positive revolution I experienced during my EVS.
Frische Luft / Fresh air (song by Wincent Weiss, 2017: https://youtu.be/J3GN6JXjV3g)
Ich brauch' frische Luft / I need fresh air
Damit ich wieder bisschen atmen kann / So I can breathe a little bit again
Wenn was endet, fängt was Neues an / When something ends, something new begins
Muss nur dran glauben und dann wird alles gut / Just got to believe it and then everything will be fine
One more ‘office’ song. This time from 104,6 RTL Berlin Radio. A bit cheesy, but hence pretty funny. We were singing it sometimes with my awesome colleagues. Metaphoric. Also in the context of my own change. A change in an emotional and thinking being.
Schwarz zu Blau / Black to blue (song by Peter Fox, 2009: https://youtu.be/yphwzD1XaBY)
Guten Morgen, Berlin / Good morning Berlin
Du kannst so hässlich sein, so dreckig und grau / You can be so ugly, so dirty and gray
Du kannst so schön schrecklich sein / You can so wonderfully terrible
Deine Nächte fressen mich auf / Your nights are devouring me
Es wird für mich wohl das Beste sein / It might just be the best for me
Ich geh' nach Hause und schlaf' mich aus / If I go home and sleep
Und während ich durch die Straßen lauf' / And while I'm walking through the streets
Wird langsam schwarz zu blau / Black slowly turns into blue
It was cold, snowy March morning and I was walking to my 'Intensiv Deutschkurs' (4 hours a day, 5 times a week for the whole month). The streets of Berlin were then just ugly and dirty. Like in the song. Berlin is sometimes like this.
Bilder im Kopf / Pictures in my head (song by Sido, 2012: https://youtu.be/RveIJFR7LV4)
In einem schwarzen Fotoalbum mit 'nem silbernen Knopf / Inside a black photo album with a silver knob
Bewahr ich alle diese Bilder im Kopf / I save all of these photos in my head
Ich weiß noch, als wir das erste Mal gechillt haben im Loft / I remember the first time we chilled in the loft
Ich bewahr mir diese Bilder im Kopf / I saved all these photos in my head
I have so many memories in my head. I was listening to this song while walking on the streets of Berlin and thinking about evanescence, that my time there would probably eventually end one day and I would just save these moments of wandering through this fantastic city in my head.
Stadtaffe / City (urban) monkey (song by Peter Fox, live version, 2009: https://youtu.be/zBfkYjlWe38)
Danke schön, Berlin. Der nächste Song ist für euch. Für alle Stadtaffen. Egal ob aus Hamburg, Rom, Moskau, London, Shanghai oder aus Spandau / Thank you, Berlin. The next song is for you, for all city monkeys. Doesn’t matter from where – Hamburg, Rome, Moscow, London, Shanghai or Spandau (western district of Berlin).
Alles is' bunt, laut & blinkt / Everything is colorful, noisy and flashing
Stadt voller Affen is' voll & stinkt! / City full of monkeys is full and stinks
Smog in den Lungen rinnt rauf und grins' / Smog in the lungs comes up and grins
Ich steige auf ein Haus und ihr hört mich singen / I climb on a house and hear myself sing
Wir feiern ohne Grund, komm rauch und trink / We celebrate without reason, come smoke and drink
Die Party ist gelungen wir sind taub und blind / The party is a success, we are deaf and blind
I came back to Berlin after Easter break in Poland in the beginning of April. The city was something totally else than when I left it couple of days earlier. Spring has come. It was light, warm and full of people drinking coffee on the streets. Ida joined me as a second EVS volunteer in my organization. She brought a lot of energy and creativity with her. Next months were very active and a lot of fun. A plenty of outdoor events and activities. And A CRAZY PARTY TIME IN A CRAZY PARTY CITY.
Favourite places in Berlin: AfricAvenir International’s office, Kulturbrauerei, AlteKantine, Volkspark Rehberge, Schropp Landkartenhaus, Freiluftkino Friedrichshain, Yaam, Treptower Park, Mokum, Kneipe Klo, Teufelsberg, Kraftwerk, Bar 1920/Belushi’s, Safari Imbiss, Salome Market, KitKat, Berghain, Potsdamer Platz Sony Centre during Christmas, Wannsee, DDR Museum, Monbijou Park, Humboldt-Box, Rausch Schokoladenhaus, Nuke Club… No, it doesn’t make any sense. Faaar too many awesome places in my city!
99 Luftballons / 99 balloons (Song by Nena 1983: https://youtu.be/La4Dcd1aUcE)
Symbol of happiness, good mood, partying and wonderful people I met during my second seminar/training. We sang that song on the streets of Munich.
Places visited during my EVS
Germany Hamburg, Würzburg, Geiselwind, Potsdam, Rostock, München, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Magdeburg, Thale (Harz mountains)
Denmark Copenhagen, Helsingør, Hellerup, Albertslund
Spain Palma de Mallorca, Manacor, Valldemossa, Porto Cristo, Cala Millor
Czech Republic Brno, Prague
Tage wie diese / Days like these (song by Die Toten Hosen, 2012: https://youtu.be/j09hpp3AxIE)
An Tagen wie diesen, wünscht man sich Unendlichkeit / On days like these, you wish for infinity
An Tagen wie diesen, haben wir noch ewig Zeit / On days like these, we still have everlasting time
In dieser Nacht der Nächte, die uns so viel verspricht / In this night of nights that promises us so much
Erleben wir das Beste, kein Ende ist in Sicht / We're experiencing the best, no end is in sight
Great days. My EVS in Berlin was fantastic and I was realising it while being there. I was thinking about it – how beautiful these days were. And I knew that they would be gone. Even if I stay in Berlin or in Germany, it wouldn't be the same. It would be different me as every minute of passing time makes us different people. The global circumstances change. Everything changes. Time. We get older. Our family members and our friends get older. Death is drawing a bit nearer. The world is different every minute. Notion of time again. All the time. Everywhere. Time.
Leere Worte / Empty words (song by Böhse Onkelz, 2015: https://youtu.be/yjuxsdqJe0c)
Ich bin hoch geflogen / I flew high
tief gefallen / Low fallen
Ich war ganz oben / I was at the top
und hab' Gott bei der Arbeit geseh'n / And I saw God at work
Ich schmorte in der Hölle / I smell in hell
küsste dem Teufel den Arsch / Kiss the devil's ass
Ich sah in den Himmel und in… / I looked up into the sky
und in mein eigenes Grab / And into - and into my own grave
BUT THE VALUES ARE REAL. There is no correlation between these lyrics and my experiences, but I like it musically very much (although I know that this band allegedly had some intolerant and unfriendly statements in their lyrics in the past). Only the title of the song is EVS-ish to me. All the materials from Erasmus+, things, gadgets we get during trainings, small bags, badges etc. have some ‘big’, bombastic, effusive slogans and texts printed on them. I am looking right now at a bag we were given on our Eval meeting – it says: Erasmus+ zmienia życie, otwiera umysły (changes life, opens minds). Sounds very much like a commercial’s slogan (these bug me so much!). Untrue and artificial. But…
…after my EVS, somehow I BELIEVE IN IDEALS AGAIN. At least in some of them. These slogans ‘happened’ to me. Things we were talking about during trainings, things we were working on in my organization, all the beautiful feelings and states of mind and relationships, freedom, satisfaction, friendship, tolerance, open-mindedness, self-development, fulfilment, mindfulness, pride of oneself, positive thinking. All these fantastic people I met. THESE WERE NOT ONLY EMPTY WORDS. In this difficult times, I needed it. I wanted to be good and true and free. Now, after my EVS I feel so much stronger. So fresh and inspired. And I believe in good and empathy. I know that there's good and empathy. That there are good people. I know there are people like me. With almost exactly same thinking as mine. And there’s a lot of them. Even here, on this statistically pretty sad, boring, negative Polish soil. I’ve just met 40 of them! They gave me the reason to believe. THESE ARE NOT EMPTY WORDS.
Wir sind Helden - Denkmal / We are Heroes – Monument (song by Wir sind Helden, 2009: https://youtu.be/aC872j2-PDw)
Komm mal ans Fenster komm her zu mir/ Come to the window, come to me here
Siehst du da drüben gleich da hinterm Wellblechzaun / Do you see it over there behind the corrugated iron fence
Da drüben auf dem Platz vor Aldi / Over there on the place in front of Aldi
Haben sie unser Abbild in Stein gehaun / They've carved our image into stone
I think of this song 'collectively'. I think of all the EVS volunteers I know. WE ALL DID SOMETHING GREAT. For ourselves and for others, for those we’ve worked, played, just talked with, whom we’ve helped. For all the people we’ve met on our path. I guess we’ve all learnt so much about other people, other cultures, but also, I guess most importantly, about ourselves.
I did a lot of volunteering in the past, but this was something one of a kind, something absolutely unique and I cannot imagine something could beat that ever. There is no need for this however. I feel I can use this potential and positiveness I gained till the very end of myself. Even if I would get somehow a bit lost, I won’t be afraid. I have ideas, tools and techniques to cope with every situation. I have places to come back to. And most importantly, I have plenty of amazing, emphatic, responsible, full of love and good friends I can always count on. Friends who would always save me from evil and misery.
In the song they sing Sie haben uns ein Denkmal gebaut (They’ve built us a monument/memorial), but I would also change it slightly.
My fantastic friends, WE’VE BUILT US MONUMENTS. I guess eternal monuments. Not only left we traces on lives of others, we’ve changed them, we’ve become heroes to some of them. Some got from us all the best we have in us. We’ve built us monuments in themselves. And it was often mutual. We got the same from them. They helped us. Thanks to them too, we’ve managed. We’ve built us monuments. In our hearts and minds. We’ve changed ourselves. We’ve become our own heroes. We've gained eternal pride. We had to make decisions, we had to overcome obstacles, we had to put effort. And we did it. We could think of us as separate cases. And it would still be awesome and totally fantastic. However I’d rather think of it for a second as of a whole thing. Whole thing. Because then it is one of the most beautiful and amazing things I can imagine.
Seeed - Wonderful life (https://youtu.be/lk4fxsrJajY)
During my EVS I’ve learnt to change perspective (Perspektiven wechseln – check my first post). Sometimes I was observing myself as if there was a camera in the top corner of my room or a drone over my head when I was walking through Berlin (and damn, I’ve walked a lot through the whole city, I loved those walks). I felt like a character in a book or a movie, all these emotions and new situations, new people and friendships, travelling, falling from a bike, drinking too much beer and mulled wine, beating running records in the park, dancing like insane in crazy techno clubs till mornings, doing successfully bookkeeping in German (ich habe Erfahrung!), buying a Druckertoner and post stamps, getting a spare key to the office, printing in the copy shop, buying Schinken und Käse croissants in Lidl, eating Lammkopfsuppe and Shakalaka mit Hünchen, video recording the conferences and symposiums, understanding at least a little bit the concept of white supremacy, telling spontaneous jokes in German that actually made people laugh, having extraordinary conversations with strangers, all the moments, all the big and small adventures. Really. It was a wonderful life. It is now a wonderful life. And a WONDERFUL LIFE will it be.
Die Perspektive wurde erfolgreich gewechselt. Ick liebe EVS. Danke für alles. Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin. Wir sehen uns sehr bald wieder!