I am applying for the ESC project. I know that it has lot to offer to me. I haven't yet a clear picture what this program is about. Just listened to my friends and understood that it is a nice opportunity to meet very nice people and have interesting experiences. I am just inspired from their stories about volunteering.
In the end of May I got an email from the organisation (CHANCE International), where I applied to have my ESC. They say that they have chosen me as a possible candidate. They organize different youth exchanges, seminars, training for youngsters and youth workers in the field of non-formal education. And my position in the organisation would be as a SMM and PR manager. I will get informed to our audience about the initiatives that they have by making them interested in it.
In the beginning of June I got the opportunity to take part in a youth exchange in Georgia. I did not have such intercultural meetings abroad before. But I was hopeful that it would be a nice beginning for my upcoming long term experience.
Then I am starting to manage the issues of my Visa. I am doing it alone. It's my first experience in the German embassy of Armenia. It's quite complicated to get a Visa in Armenia because of the documentation and not so pleasure attitude of workers in embassy. However. I am starting to get in touch with my friends who already had similar experiencse for getting their visas. I am trying to register in the embassy to hand over the documents. So I made an appointment for 20 of August.
I am making an agreement with our sending organisation. Normally I would have had to start the project the 1st of August. But since I would not get my visa until that date, I had to start later. I already have signed our agreement. It seems as if I knew what I will do, what will be my obligations and rights. But still I am a bit scared. I don't know of what exactly, but I am in a restless situation. I know that in a way challenges are awaiting me. I am ready to face them and overcome my fears.
Almost every day I meet my friends. And the realization that we will not meet for one year makes me sad. Not only because I felt better with them, but also because I know that for one year I won’t have them around me. So it's one of the first steps getting out off my comfort zone. You are not getting independet by doing tasks without somebody's help, you are getting independent by doing something without having somebody who you know around you.
In the middle of August I came back to our village from Yerevan. It seems as if it was yesterday when me and grandmother were drinking a coffee under the trees in the garden and were making a plan for my upcoming destinations. We were speaking about my new place where I needed to live, my new office, friends, atmosphere, expectations. And then my grandfather was worried, that I will get lost in Berlin, and I tried to calm him down: Come on, it’s the 21st century, I will find a way, no matter what.
(Well I have already written about my expectation, that was mostly about the Europe. You can find it here: https://bit.ly/2B5eETb)
It's 4th of September. I am going to Kutaisi from Yerevan, because my flight was going there. After an 8 hour journey I had to sleep because I was really tired from the road. Then at 3 a.m I booked a taxi for taking me to the airport. So it was 4 in the morning when I arrived at the airport. Staff was checking my documents and suddenly she looked at me and said that I could not fly. That was awful. I tried to calm down and asked her to clarify what was going on. She explained that I did not confirm my flight, and because of that, I had to fly 2 days later and that I have to travel a different route now, not arriving directly in Berlin. Suddenly I felt like a child who gets lost in an unfamiliar place and feels absolutely lonely. At that very moment I understood, that when I leave my country I am totally on own, and I have to do everything just by myself. I also realized that the challenges are just starting.
It's 6th of September. Dortmund was my first unplanned station in my travel list. I was tired and I didn't really care where I am and what's around me. However It's 17.00 p.m in evening and I am finally in Berlin.
At the 8th of September was my first visit to my workplace. Everything is still new for me. I am getting to know my colleagues. They seem nice. Everybody seems very hospitable, friendly. The only person who I do not understand at that moment is me. I am trying to focus on what I will do here. But at that time I feel really passive because I do nothing. Everybody around me speaks Russian. I understand Russian but I don't feel confident enough to speak in this language. So I am trying not to focus on it. I am hopeful that everything will be ok during the time.
A few days later I had my first non-formal seminar: " Future Lab, Go non-formal education ". Well I'm still shy with everyone. I need to get out of my comfort zone. Oooh that's sounds good. But easier said than done.
I have met new people already and I feel better and better. Then I am trying to help my colleagues. I am writing my first text that we need to publish on our FB page. But as I undersood my supervisor doesn't like it. She tells me that my text hasn't the correct structure. That is possible, but it doesn’t help me to be more confident.
(By the way: these kind of situations were constantly continuing in my work, but it's one of the key points of the process to become better. And you will feel the progress later.)
It's only the end of September but it feels like I have been here already much longer. Is time going slower here? Maybe it's because I experience so many new things.
I would say after first month of my volunteering, which was the adaptation period, October is the period of completely engaging process in my work. We have the second youth exchange with Armenians and Germans. I enjoy the process being with participants. At the same time I start my german course and I really like my new course friends. So my days are overloaded and I like it. But I don't really communicative with my colleagues. Something bothers me to share with them my difficulties that I have in my work (writing a text, or making a video). It's my impression that me and my colleagues are uninformed on our functions. It's a bit strange and frustrating. I mean frustration is also the part of development, and it's up to you how measurable it could be. That's what I realized during this period.
The end of the October we had a meeting in office. It's not really a pleasure for me, because I felt like someone who does nothing and doesn't know where she appeared and what is her function. I mean the feedback that I got made me feel like that and and I strived to work productively. By the way I don't really understand what can be productive. I know that it sounds strange but it is what it is. It were my feelings. I didn’t really understand what people want from me. At that moment I felt that my work will not be so easy. Difficulties are waiting me. And the intentions that everything will become ok during the time seems inaccessible for the moment.
The end of the October we had another project. We have a working plan and I am trying to follow it. I got to know other people. So during one month almost 60 new persons with different temperaments and backgrounds. That's amazing. Can you imagine the impressional wave that I had in that short term period. We had two meetings in the office. And it was stressful for me. The problem was that I did not really figure out how to overcome these uncertainties. Our manager suggested us to buy tickets and go back to our country. And still it is only 2 months yet and I don't really understand what I am doing that isn't right. Well from this situation I learned to be patient, and to don’t think emotionally. I am counting the days on calendar, and I have the intention to change my program into another, but something from inside says me to calm down.
It's a new training course and another group came to Berlin from different countries. The topic is about communication. Well I like it. I am starting actively communicate with participants. My day seems full and energetic. I am trying to get involved in a process. I wrote a story about this event, and this time my supervisor liked my article. I found my work appreciated. I realized, that volunteering is constantly changing process where you can be in different positions. One day you can feel you are a hero, one day active, one day frustrated, and so on, that mostly connected with your emotional intelligence. Like for example how your self awareness is working. How good you know yourself. And the important point of this whole process is that you are learning every day, every moment.
In the end of the November I am going to Naumburg for my On-Arrival seminar. These is going to be nice, because I will meet new people in the same position as I am in.
Well I enjoy my time here. Every day we have a new topic to discuss: discrimination, sexual harassment, social development. I feel enthusiastic here. Next day we are going to Halle Saale, which is the old city close to Naumburg. We are going to walk around the city and to go the "Roter Ochse" Memorial that tells about Nazi regime and various stories behind this historical period. it’s the first time in my life that I see something like this physically. It’s terrifying.
We haven't got any project and so we have nothing special to do. I take a vacation to go to Paris with my new friends who I got to know during the youth exchange last month.
In the end of the month we are going to play bowling with my colleagues. It is the first informal event with them that I participate since being in this office. And yet I feel like a part of this community. But I would say not much has changed. Me and my supervisor are satisfying by exchanging a few sentences with each other and that's all. I am trying to tell myself that it is because of the language (russian). Probably I haven't enough language skills to understand her, but feelings can be completely different. I think in a way you can understand people without even knowing a language, but this intention probably wasn't for me. Still something bothers me to get off from my comfort zone, but it’s even worse than just to be enthusiastic. Whatever
Today I got postcards from my colleague for Christmas. one of them has inspired me: "Nora you have everything to reach your goals, don’t stop. Be brave." Again quite often easier said than done. But still somehow it motivates me to focus on the decisions, not on the problems. I play bowling very well. I really enjoy to see how you can destroy the target in one step.
It’s the beginning of January. We are having a meeting. My colleagues suggest me to take the initiative and as long as I am here it's time to do something myself. It's not necessary to wait for them to give me tasks. All right. This can be a nice opportunity to implement ideas and have a new experience. Me and my colleague decided to do work on media literacy. So I suggested to manage on media campaign. Well It seems that I like my work. And I found my work structured. It's seems I know what I am doing and what's my functions for that moment.
At the same time I am corresponding to youthreporter, which is a really good experience to reflect my life in these period by improving my language skills and knowledge on different topics.
Then I took part in language courses that took place in Berlin. Every Monday I am going for an English speaking club and every Friday for a Russian speaking club. It is really ridiculous in both courses, because of the different age of the participants and interesting topics. We are discussing topics such as: anecdotes, racism, different manners in different countries in the English club. And we talked about the cartoons, movies, films in Russian speaking club being in different positions and practising our language. One person who is really looks like to our former neighbour in Armenia suggest me to learn german together. But still I am not sure, that I have enough motivation to learn german with him.
The 4th of the February I took part in one youth exchange that was organized by another organization. I took a holiday for it for 4 day. In the 5th day of the seminar I realized that it is the best youth exchange that I ever had. I got to know about 30 nice young people. These exchange program gave me a huge energy in my work. I got the nice experience being in a group that gave me a different perspective about Europe and the European Union. Now I have good friends thanks to this project. So this period is my favourite one, being active and productive. Here you can get to know what I am speaking about (https://bit.ly/3d3xhUr).
In the end of the month I went to Prague with my friends. I liked the trdelnik here (Czech national snack). It’s so tasty
In the beginning of the month I take part in one event that is called "Youth Award Ceremony, The most impactful volunteering project". I wrote an article for the competition. A few days later I got an email where it was written that my article was awarded as a winner and I went to Brussel where I got an award during a ceremony. I was really inspired. You can find the article here ( https://bit.ly/3fuMBv7 )
Then still inspired by these events I got involved in a new project, being more motivated. But then, because of the spread of COVID-19, the event was cancelled. Yes I was frustrated but what could I do, nothing, same as many others whose plans were cancelled, too. So March is an unpredictable month in my volunteering year. Before we went into the quarantine we spoke about the seminar that my supervisor and manager was going to make. The main topic is solidarity. I am keeping with me this topic. I was thinking about solidarity in relation to COVID-19. An in general, during the crisis many tensions and issues occured. I shared my thoughts here (https://bit.ly/2AuIHDI).
So it's the end of March. We are still working from home because of the crisis. It's really hard for me to focus on work from home. In that case I don't feel comfortable. The uncertain situation leaves me unmotivated. But still I am striving to not lose my time. Although it seems impossible. However in these period I mostly focus on my article, writing on different topics. Because I thought that I need to focus on something that will make me to be a bit balanced.
I found a nice place close to our house. There is peace, that allows me to relax. Every morning I am going there to take a walk and to read a book. it helps a bit to cut off this uncertain situation.
I started to do a German course to fill my time productively. But I don’t really enjoy the process. I don’t even know what to do…….April was a stressful month for me. I got some task from my Supervisor and still I worked on it. And something happened in the organisation that produced misunderstandings between my colleagues. So somehow these situation had an impact on me. And I started to think about the topic of solidarity again. I just wanted to realise what solidarity really is and why everybody speaks about it but does not act properly.
I decided to write an article about solidarity and this uncertain situation. Here it is (https://bit.ly/37xCvH1). After sending it to my colleagues I got a call. My manager told me that I did not understand what was going on and started to figure out what I mean by writing it.
However from that moment I felt that volunteering gave me more courage and confidence to express what I am thinking and to argue about that. There were some unpleasant moments as well in the end of april, between me and my manager, but I will forget about it. I am not so memorable about negative things, because I think, that you have to think sustainable in every situation and get ready to analyse the things in a positive way, otherwise not only volunteering but also life in general will get worse, even though it leave a bad impression on my further relation with her. And you know, what I really got from it. Sometimes personal approach of somebody towards your personality can discover many things about that person, that can teach you to act with his/her own language.
In the first of the May I moved to another apartment. It is way better. I like it. At the same time I am managing to have my online webinar about storytelling. One and a half month have passed and I missed the office. But we don't know when we will start to work again from there. Two weeks later I went to work and it seemed as if everything came back to normal life. We have a meeting in the office and my manager told me that I did not work enough. I agreed with her, but in fact I did not really understand why she said that. Who knows, but my impression is, that I did absolutely nothing wrong.
Well. You know I am really happy that two weeks later I will have succeeded my volunteering year.
It’s the first of the June and I already have had my Mid-term seminar. Before taking part in this seminar, I thought, that it was going to be somehow boring, because of the distance. But still it is really nice. During the seminar, me and some volunteers were talking about the different topics like: Lockdown crisis, how we overcame it while being at home, what we will do after ESC volunteering, how volunteering influenced on our behaviour, how we improved our 8-key competences ( https://bit.ly/2V8Jkdb ). Also we were discussing about the EU policy, german culture and language. Seminar has stretched 9 days, and in this short period I catch up to cotton with participants. Then some of them came to Berlin and we had a nice time together. And what I realized after the training is that I have a lot of similarities with my colleagues. We are in the same position and every anxiety or uncertain situation that we have quite often can be shared. For example, being irresponsible and becoming punctual. Or having less social competence and becoming better in socializing.
Well in the middle of June I finished my seminar and I am coming back to the office. Me and my colleagues decided to to make some video improvisations. We have a new colleague at the office and he motivated us in our work. Before I didn’t even imagine that I would have willingness to do something in the office anymore, especially after the last meeting, but still the responsibility and inspiration that I got from my colleagues makes me happy with my work. We did some videos about our volunteering experience and generally about the volunteering life. We really enjoy the filming process and time with our new colleague. And what I realized is that we need to make a fun whatever we are doing, otherwise it will turn into obligations and affectation, as it was before.
Here you can find the video where I am sharing my volunteering experience and generally volunteer’s life in one year ( https://youtu.be/QiAdndWWvGI ).
Time is really flying. The only thing that I am wondering about is that I could use my time much better. But I think it is the same for every other situation. You always think that something could be in a different way. But that's what it is: the process of your progress. It's a constantly changing wave, you just need to keep your balance and get your results by using the time productively and with a lot of enthusiasm.
You know what. After coming back to my country I will not be the same person who was too shy to express her mind and ideas. I will not be the person who is scared to pass the path alone. Now I am a person who knows how to keep the self control and self confidence. My new personality is not completely succeeded but still somehow I got out of my comfort zone by going through all these new colours that I mentioned above. That is what volunteering is about. Now I am just laughing when I remember all of my alarms. That's what volunteering can give you: laughing on situations that made you to be in alarm and stressed just few months ago.
Yes it's stressful, alarming, challenging sometimes frustrating but it's is the process to go one step forward in your life, to be satisfied and confident in your work. Yes! My expectations were fulfilled. That is what I can surely say.