A few words about my voluntary service - Nina

My story begins on September 23rd, arriving in Halle. This is actually the day I moved, and as soon as I arrived, after the coordinator met me at the main station, all the volunteers went to the municipality together to report our whereabouts. Pretty exhausted and tired of the road, with suitcases in which I had packed my hopes, dreams and expctations, also clothes for windy days (because I was warned). I enter, sitting and waiting my turn. Until yesterday at home, today I change my address, but at that moment I feel satisfied. My turn is coming, lots of papers, signatures, rubrics and signatures again. Confused, I read my new address on the screen (which I still do not know where it is), and many other sections, citizenship of one country, residence of another, ultimately automatically throws out that I am Yugoslav.

From the moment I applied for a International Voluntary Service , I began to prepare myself mentally, most of all for situations I could not even imagine. New environment, new people, cultural shock.
The beginning was easy, I would say moving from one comfort zone to another, but only because from the moment of relocation many people were there for me, a peer mentor, a coordinator, previous volunteers from Halle who performed their volunteer service in my city. That encouraged me. Great solidarity and empathy from the people around me. In the beginning I had a problem with the apartment, I missed many things, but together we resolved it.
Getting to know POS, mentors and colleagues was something completely new to me. Everyone already knows I'm coming, I was feeling responsible. Many questions in my head, will I live up to expectations ?! On arrival, every single person hugs me. It means a lot to me, but it's not something that people in my country practice unless they know someone. The team meeting in German was very confusing for me, but my mentor lets me know that at any moment I can ask for a translation. And again I had passed it all on another  POS. This time with a little experience.

I really feel  fulfilled volunteering at Welcome Treff and Kulturwekstatt Grüne Villa. For the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to gain such experience, to work with people from everywhere, from different backgrounds, from different life stories, and also to learn from them. Through my work in these organizations, when I look at the issues of marginalized groups of people, I actually get to know myself. Although I had been active in a human rights organization for a years, I come from an environment that is homogeneous. I  did not have the opportunity to grow up surrounded by people who came from somewhere, or who stayed in my hometown in passing. For the first time, I realize that some boundaries are moving deep inside me, breaking down some stereotypes that I didn't even know existed. Looking at situations from other angles, it's hard to just imagine, you have to be in those shoes for the experience to affect you.
As time goes by, I get to know more people and interact more intensely with the people I work with. They help me discover Halle and the many amenities the city has to offer. Sometimes the wind blows and brings out a scent that reminds me of my home. Then I realize Halle is my first „second home“ in my life. And as I write this I'm counting how long it's been since I've lived here, 5 months. For 5 months now, the subjective feeling is much smaller, which is a good sign then.

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