05 May Interview with Jule, our volunteer from Schuler Helfen Leben in Germany
Hello Jule, please tell us few things about yourself
Last year I finished high school in northern Germany. After that I didn’t want to go to university directly, so I decided to do a voluntary service in a foreign country. Therefore I applied for a volunteering yearthrough the German Youth Organization “Schüler Helfen Leben” (SHL).
How long did you volunteer with SHL before coming to Macedonia?
I was active member in the organization for about half a year. Before that I participatedin the “Social Day”, organized by SHL every year. On this day, pupils all over Germany work for one day and donate their salary to SHL who supports youth projects with this money. I have been participating and supporting the Social Day events since I was in seventh grade.
Why did you select to volunteer in Macedonia?
SHL cooperates with organizations all over the Balkans. This is a part of Europe that is very unique and I wanted to get to know it. I thought that among the projects I would go best with the one of the “Centre for Social Initiatives Nadez”. Besides, previous SHL volunteers in Macedonia recommended the Centre for Social Initiatives Nadez as a great organization for volunteering.
How was your initial experience in the country?
Macedonia is very different. In the beginning it felt strange and foreign but then everything made sense. It only took me one month to adapt and I began to feel comfortable and to like the place. I like Macedonia because the people here are open. I like the food, especially the fresh fruits and vegetables you can get everywhere on the markets.
How is Macedonia different from Germany?
Life in Macedonia somehow is more relaxed and I learned that sometimes this can be very healthy.
How is your experience with Nadez?
There are so many nice people in Nadez who helped me to adapt in Macedonia. I feel welcome and accepted as a member of the team, especially because there are nohigh steps of authority and the people who work in the organization are always open for communication and ideas.
You work with children from the Roma community who attend the Educational Centre at Nadez. How do you like it?
It is a great experience to feel that the children like me. I enjoy that the children are usually very motivated to participate in every activity I want to do with them. They are always excited to meet me and I feel the same. It feels great when I see that I am able to help them in order to improve themselves and I can already see some improvements in the period that I have been here.
Do you think Nadez is filling an important role in the advancement of Roma children?
Yes! Definitely. With “Nadez” they get a chance to learn and to become better in school. The local school cannot pay attention to every single student and many of them are unable to catch up with the learning material. The educators at the organization enable the children to interact and learn from each other because there are children who are really making good progress compared to the average in the community. It is very interesting that I have been approached by children who do not attend the Educational Centre who have asked me if they can come in and do homework.
Has this experience changed you in some ways?
Yes, in many ways. This experience has expanded my views and thanks to that I can see my own life in a different light. I have a broader and deeper understanding of people who are different and that they can have very different opinions, aims and needs in life. I am now more open to engage with differences while at the same time maintaining my own personality that was shaped by what I have learned.
What would you say to future volunteers in C.S.I. Nadez and Macedonia?
It is important to be flexible when you find yourself in a foreign environment. Keep an open mind to new situations and accept things the way they are. At the same time be aware of people’s feelings and wishes. You will be in a situation where you can influence a situation by showing how something is done in a way that is different than the local.