Halli-hallo from Germany. I can’t believe that the second part of my volunteering is going to end soon. I am still working in a German children’s home and the working days here pass just too fast since there is so much to do. It is really interesting to help kids with their homework because it often differs from Ukrainian approach. I like the fact that children aged 10-12 learn useful skills such as touch typing and have an opportunity to show their creativity and interests in preparing reports.
What I like most about my project is that there are challenges every day because life here is not a Ponyhof (literally "a pony farm") as Germans say. I would say that their approach to children is not as authoritarian as ours. Everyone, including carers, educators and psychologists try to stay at the same level with children. In practice it means that children have as much freedom as possible which gives them an opportunity to feel that they are in control of their lives.
It is really cool that children learn skills of administration. For example, every group meets once a week to discuss some internal affairs. In my group we meet every Wednesday at 17.00. Two representatives protocol and later file everything. These meetings are so important that the attendance is obligatory. In addition, two representatives from every group meet once a week to discuss the propositions and complaints concerning the whole facility with two mentors appointed by kids, too. For example, all children have smartphones and they want access the Internet. However, there is no wi-fi in the children's house, so they discussed their wish with mentors, who passed it to the director, who in his turn, discussed it with the local authorities who provide financial support to the facility. In the end, children are expecting to have Wi-Fi in a few months (it is a long process due to financing issues).
Also, I like that here children who use the Internet have to sign a paper informing them of their rights and responsibilities. For instance, that nobody can offend them and they are not allowed offend others. They know and respect the fact that it is illegal to download films, music and so on.
In my free time I lean German, go to libraries (they are really cool despite the fact that I live in a provincial town), attend German and French classes and meet friends. Both seminars for volunteers were great. The first one took place in Dresden and the second one in Weimar. I have met great people from all parts of Europe and we keep in touch. I visited them in Erfurt, Köln and Leipzig.
At last, I visited Prague and Strasbourg! However, here in Bayern there are a lot of beautiful little towns worth visiting, too. Parks and the swimming pool save us from the summer heat and I have already got tanned!
After almost 10 months I still like my project and cannot believe that soon it will be time to leave.
Nataliia Motruk, 29, Lanivtsi