I had been a volunteer in a day-care/youth center in Telfs/Austria from October 2016 until October 2017. Telfs is a large village (Marktgemeinde Telfs) in the Austrian state of Tyrol. In the beginning of the voluntary work, I didn’t know what to expect from the year that lay ahead of me. One thing I knew, it would be an unforgettable time!
During this one year I met many interesting people from different countries, I improved my German, picked up some Tirolean dialect but I also studied English and a little bit of Turkish. I am especially very grateful for meeting my friend Raimonda, a girl from Lithuania who also volunteered in Tyrol. She became my best friend in Austria and was like a family for me during that period away from my home country. Our friendship started through a language tandem.
However, I should tell you more about the skills and experience I gained during my stay in Austria rather than telling you about who I made friends with.
My project was about working with children (6-12) in the day-care center and with teenagers (12-18) in two youth centers. Hence, a unique chance to work with young people of diverse age. The work with the growing children was remarkable and very interesting. Together with the kids, we made drawings, painted, made toys, bracelets but also played indoor and outdoor games or made homework among other things.
Together with the teenagers, we chatted, kidded around, prepared meals together, sometimes we had to settle conflicts and help them with job applications or other problems in life.
During the time of the project I have had enough free time to explore new places, cities and countries. I for example got a free summer ticket from my organization, so I could travel within Austria for free. I discovered many regions in Austria itself and occasionally went to neighboring countries.
At that time, my trips inspired me and I resurrected my old passion of painting which I had stopped years before. I bought a little block, box of watercolor paints, brushes and Whenever I visited a new place, I started to draw local buildings or landscapes. The painting led to many occasions where I came into contact with new people and got involved in conversations with foreigners.
Some of the people I met are still part of my life and I hope to keep on with those valuable friendships in the future.
If it comes to my personal development I think I grew a lot as a person during the 12 months. In my opinion I got more open-minded, more tolerant towards other people and cultures and more experienced in general. And I understood that it doesn’t matter where you go, what kind of problem you are dealing with – there is always a solution to a problem.
Olha Tiahovska, 24 years old, Kyiv