Busy at Salvator Kolleg
I am really happy at the Salvator Kolleg. I am still helping in English, Art and Spanish lessons, but the kind of support I am giving is slightly different, more demanding but also more fun!
This month, in the English lessons I wasn’t just going around the tables solving the student’s problems whilst the teacher followed her program. I also took the teacher role; which included preparing some material and planning the lessons. I was also given lots of freedom, so I could plan the lesson in a way that suited me better. Therefore, I have been quite busy lately preparing lessons, going to several classes or correcting students’ writings. Being given these kind of tasks, I feel that the teachers really trust me and feel that they can rely on me, which gives me courage and confidence. Recently, I have also started to give a private lesson per week to a student who finds English quite challenging. I also like this one to one approach, as I can address her present specific needs.
In the Art lessons with the young students I also have more responsabilities. In several occasions, we have splitted the class in half, in a way that I am alone with half of the group whilst the main teacher stays in the other classroom with the rest of the students. In that way, the group doesn’t get too loud, and we are able to do two different tasks at the same time, according to the children’s rhythms. Sometimes, though, I feel that my German is not good enough to address the students in the Art lessons. I try to, and whenever I have difficulties I switch to English, as they can generally understand it. The teacher is also open to any suggestion for activities that I might have, and it is easy and comfortable to work together and talk about how we are going to manage the class. Definitely, I don’t feel as a helper who just receives and follows orders, but as a colleage with whom the teachers can work as a team, exchanging points of view and suggestions to make the lessons better.
Finally, the Spanish lessons. That is certainly my favourite lesson of the week. I can use and share my own language, and teaching Spanish as a foreign language is also my field of expertise. Moreover, I get to teach half of the group by myself, which means that I am free to approach the lesson however I want. Of course, I always agree with the Spanish teachers on which contents should we address next. But then, they give me freedom to plan the class how I think it’s more convenient. I obviously try to make the lessons fun and entertaining for the students. They come voluntarily, and it is really important to keep them motivated and eager to learn Spanish.
An online Seminar
On the last week of October (from the 26th October to the 1st November), we were supposed to travel all the way to Weimar, do our “On arrival training” Seminar, meet other European volunteers and explore that very popular and beautiful city. So exciting, right? But not, everything was rearranged due to… Surprise! Corona again! The initial plan was changed to an Online Seminar. As you may imagine, I felt really disappointed. And even more when I got to know that the Seminar schedule was going to be from 9am until 5pm. What!? So long in front of the computer!? Was I even going to be able to enjoy the sunlight finishing so late!? But my expectations were completely wrong!
I had 2 amazing trainers, who made the experience really productive and charming.
- They provided us with tasks and material to lead us on our introspective journey. Some of the tasks that I found specially beneficial were: making a puzzle of our lifes, in which we gathered together different aspects of our personality, our past experiences or our personal preferences; drawing the line of our life, in which we represented the turning points in our past and its ups and downs; or setting up projects that we would like to carry out at some point, thinking first about the previous ones we have already achieved in the past. As you might see, activities like these ones didn’t have to be done at home, sitting at the desk or staring at our computer screen. One of them even asked us to go outside and explore our town in a more conscious way.
- We were also suggested and encouraged to work with buddies, which I found a great idea. In this case, a buddy was someone with whom we could exchange our experiences and share in a more private way our self-discovery journey. I met a few times with three other volunteers (online, of couse), and it helped me keep up with the autonomous tasks that the trainers suggested us to do by ourselves. We also talked about topics that were interesting to us, such as sharing other volunteering opportunities in which we could take part in the future.
- During the day, there were also many optional sessions we could attend to. The topic sessions on the last days of the seminar were particularly interesting to me. We discussed topics such as mental health -how to deal with stress or anxiety- or sustaintability -what can we do for our planet-. On the other hand, on many occasions, the big group was splitted in small rooms with just two or three people. These were my favourite “exercises”, as we got to know each other and learn about other volunteering experiences. Although it could seem difficult to do in an online format, we also played some games in the big group. That was a great way to break the ice, getting to know each other a little bit better, and make the sessions more entertaining and fun. For instance, one game consisted of passing each other an imaginary ball or an object which represents something for us; or another one was to turn our camera off, listen to some statements (“I play an instrument”, “I feel supported in my project”…), and turn the camera on just when that statement was true for us.
- The schedule was also quite flexible. We had a compulsory session in the morning to set up the tasks of the day, and another one in the afternoon to share what we did and how we felt throughout the day. In between, we could manage our time as we wished: we could spend more time working by ourselves doing autonomous work, we could meet our buddies, our we could also join the optional sessions that our trainers held for us.
All in all, I feel that this Seminar helped me a lot with my personal growth. It gave me time to disconnect from everything else and focus just on myself. I learnt as well estrategies which I can use anytime to keep going further on my inner journey.
Leisure activities before and during lockdown
This November, restaurants, bars and museums are closed, and travelling is restricted. Not ideal when someone is trying to explore a new country. But let’s try to look at it in a positive way. The weather this month has been and it is still amazing. We have had many sunny days without rain, in which we could enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, or simply going for a walk.
1. Meeting friends
A couple of weekends before the lockdown, I met some friends in Blaubeuren, a small town close to Ulm. We did a small hike during the day, in which we got to see some tourist spots: Blautopf, a small and really blue lake; Brillenhöhle, a cave with two holes on top which give it its name; and the küssende Sau, two rocks that look like two pigs kissing each other. After the hike we walked a little bit around the village and we had a coffee in a cosy café. It was a really nice trip, not just because of the lovely hike and town, but also because I got to see my friends, who I appreciate so much.
As the “On arrival training” Seminar was taking place online, I could do it from wherever I wanted. The trainers even told us that we didn’t have to stay at home for the whole week. Therefore, I thought that it would be great to take advantage of that and visit a friend of mine in Konstanz. I did almost half of the Seminar from there. As we didn’t have any lockdown yet in Germany and at 5pm we were done with the last session, I could visit the city and stroll around the lake with my friend every evening. I find Konstanz a beautiful city, and I felt really happy for being able to stay for a few days at my friend’s place.
I am staying in Bad Wurzach with two more volunteers, and we have done some activities together as well. Some days we just went for a walk in the forest and, before the lockdown, we used to go somewhere for a drink in the evenings. One evening, though, we met to do some baking! It was the week before Halloween, and we made together a dessert that’s very popular where I come from in this time of the year, “panellets”. It is always nice and interesting when we exchange aspects of our culture and language.
2. Keeping active
Hiking and cycling. Every weekend I have done a hike o cycled around Bad Wurzach, there are so many routes! I already covered some of them, yet I still have many more to explore. I went around the Reed of Wurzach several times, I rode my bike all the way to Bad Waldsee and walked by its beautiful lake… I am really enjoying being able to spend so much time in nature! Oh, and on one weekend I had the chance to hike the Pfänder in Austria! The view from the top was amazing, with the Lake Constance on one side of the mountain and the Austrian Alps on the other side.
Climbing at the school. One year ago I started this hobby which I really like. Climbing gives me goals to achieve every time I follow a route on the wall, and it works my whole body making me feel stronger. When I moved here, I thought that I would not be able to keep on climbing, as the climbing halls I found online are not easy to reach from Bad Wurzach. However, I got to know that in the school there is a climbing wall, and every Friday there is a class with two teachers and some students. I feel really motivated and excited about it. On top of that, they are teaching me how to do lead climbing, which is something I wanted to learn at some point. This last weekend I even bought a pair of climbing shoes, so I don’t need to climb with my trainers anymore.
Taking a bath in the lake in the cold November. I might be crazy, but I am also so proud of myself for having done it! Last Saturday the temperature was no more than 6ºC, and the water at the lake I went to was at 8ºC. I went there with a friend who goes “swimming” at that lake regularly, it doesn’t matter how cold it is. I wanted to give it a try and, surprisingly, I didn’t find it so difficult to get into the water! I have to say, though, that I didn’t stay long inside. Just a few seconds were enough for the experience!
Until here my monthly journal about my volunteering experience in Bad Wurzach! I am not sure how everything is going to turn out regarding Covid-19 regulations or Christmas celebrations. Anyway, whichever way it goes, I will try to stay positive and take whatever I can get!