International youthwork through sports

Kincső's long term volunteering in Germany

What did my volunteering project in Germany give me, that I could not have experienced at home?

This is the dissemination of my one-year-long ESC project and a reflection of how it has changed my views in general.

It has already been 3 weeks since I arrived back to Budapest after my volunteering project in Potsdam, Germany. Already when I departed on this journey I did not have any doubt that it would be a completely different experience from the ones I have been a part of so far in my life. I was not mistaken!

Right after my finals, I decided to complete a volunteering project as a gap-year. After 12 years of sitting in school, a couple of small summer-jobs and 1.5 years of being forced to stay at home due to covid, this was a very sudden change for me. Within the confines of my project I could experience how it is to actually go to work on a day-to-day basis, be a part of a team, motivate each other and take responsibilities. I understood that I can adapt and feel comfortable in a new place, complete tasks, realize projects, not just for grades, like in school, but also for goals that have an effect on other people’s lives and hopefully help them in some way. I worked in the international department of my organization, mainly assisting them by the coordination of their ESC volunteers. I had the opportunity to take part in the process of choosing volunteers, support them after their arrival to Germany, help them by the integration in this unknown environment and country and solve the various problems that came up during their stay.

It is obvious from this description that I have come in contact with lots of different people from different countries, cultures, with different backgrounds, life-situations, motivations and opinions. At first, I would like to highlight my colleagues, who every time I had a problem did their best to help me quickly and find a solution. I came to consider them like a second-family. I have learned a vast amount from them about what it’s like to have true motivation and dedication for your work and to work for a goal that you actually believe in. I gained insight into how to manage my time, prioritize the more important tasks and solve crisis situations.

Most of the other people I met were volunteers, just like me. It was interesting how I got from being new in this environment to the point where I could help others, pick up new volunteers at the station, help them with bureaucracy or by answering their questions. It was nice that we could be there for each other not just on a professional level but on a personal level too.

It is important to underline that though mainly I wrote about my work so far, it was only a small part of my life and my experiences this year. As I already mentioned, I started my journey after an enforced socialization break, thanks to the Covid lockdowns in Hungary. Getting to know a different environment, living with flatmates and just generally meeting new people was a big transition. Looking back I was pretty shy and quiet in the beginning, because I was not used to having so many new people around me, after staying at home for most of the time for one and a half years.

By the end of the project I became much more confident and managed to overcome many of my anxieties that I struggled with during high-school. Through the year I felt more and more that I can be myself with my group of people and do not need to worry about things that may not be in my control. Now I can adapt to unexpected situations better and I am more spontaneous and braver than in the beginning of the year, which is also shown by the fact that I am already preparing for my next adventure, a Workaway in Italy.

This is the main thing that I learned in Germany and could not have experienced just by staying at home.

I realized that I can solve my problems and became more comfortable asking others for help. I am better at standing up for myself and much more confident. Mainly I understood that I can find my place in a completely new environment, I can make friends and feel like home. I learned that I can build up a safety net in an unknown place and this knowledge will help me enormously during my future travels and endeavors.

Coordinating organisation:

Brandenburgische Sportjugend (BSJ, Sports Youth Brandenburg) is an independent youth organisation. Its members are children and teenagers, as well as, their youth representatives who are organized in more than 2.500 sporting-clubs. It counts more than 137 thousand members under the age of 27. Therefore it is the largest youth association in the state of Brandenburg.. The organisation stands up for the co-operation and co-determination of young people in sporting-clubs and associations and acts as a representative of their interests. The work of BSJ is guided by the aim to make as many children and teenagers as possible find their way into the sporting-clubs. It is not only the aspect of fun that comes up, furthermore, the youth is supposed to have a place where they can spend their spare way in a sensible way. Within a close co-operation with other supporters, the organization contributes to designing the society and provides assistance on social and youth-political problems. It offers numerous projects regarding sport, youth-work and social-youth-work.

International youthwork through sports volunteering project

Date: September 2021 - September 2022

Volunteer: Kincső Anna Varga