3 days in Berlin

(Jonathan)

Our last week of YSI work in Frankfurt is almost over and at the moment we’re doing final preparations for our graduation workshop. However, the first 3 days of this week we didn’t spend in Frankfurt, but instead in Berlin for our last team project in Germany’s capital.
We mainly worked together with the UFAfabrik, an organization that is part of the IFS network which we are already connected to in Holland – actually they organized most of the program for us. We also had the chance to do a project with a contact Verena met at her Salto training in Portugal.
Basically we went from one organization / institution to another and got shown around… from “Nachbarschaftstreff” for families over to a little “animal farm” for kids to a “youth club” for teenagers. I was very happy that we could have Manfred Fiedler with us, a young and excited social worker who took us from one place to the other and even did some sightseeing with us on the first day. He was maybe just a few years older than we, but very much into different social projects already and it was inspiring for me to see another young person doing so much in that field.

My favorite project, though, was when we could tear down an old hut of a playground for kids at a Jewish kindergarten because it was no longer safe for the children. This was with the person Verena knew from Portugal and after she showed us around a bit, we grabbed some tools to disassemble the wooden building into its components. Everybody enjoyed doing some proper work and we had a lot of fun.

I think it was really nice for all of us to have this last project in Berlin, to see a new city, and to get to know some new people who were very enthusiastic about our work and inspired us to keep it up.

-A nice project in a nice city that will mark the end of our YSI year.

August 1, 2009 at 11:34 AM Leave a comment

Almost at the end

(Tash)

We are all now coming to the end of our year of voluntary service, and I think for everyone the past few weeks have been quite emotional! We have come to know a fair amount about German people and culture, and it seems strange to think we will be leaving here soon.
We have already said many goodbyes, but personally the most difficult parting was last week with our dear friends from the Methodist Church where we helped out weekly with cooking and food distribution. This is the one place I will miss the most from my daily activities. We had a lovely final Thursday with cake and coffee, and some singing together around the long extended table. Those are the happy memories I will take with me, along with a beautifully compiled folder with copies of the recipes we cooked with them this year, and some other lovely gifts.
At the moment we are planning a trip to Berlin, where we will be visiting some social institutions there, and participating in a small service project. We are all looking forward to a change of scene.
There is also a patchwork project being organised at a home for the elderly, where we will be making a quilt with the clients, and also do some crafting with them.
Even though we will be leaving Frankfurt soon our work here is not over yet, and we are happily keeping busy with preparing our upcoming projects.

July 21, 2009 at 5:10 PM Leave a comment

RYS Netherlands

As most people in Frankfurt know, I was gone last week. Why? I was in Rotterdam! Helen and I organized a small Religious Youth Service project. For you Dutch-speakers, check it out:

It was quite some experience.
Together, we made a unity quilt, cooked an intercultural dinner, learned about Buddhism and Hinduism, visited a (Sikh) Gurdwara, a Mosque, and a Catholic church…and generally got to learn about ourselves while serving others.

July 14, 2009 at 10:07 AM Leave a comment

Value of Personal Projects

During this past week Amy completed her personal project. I can say honestly, that the value of personal projects has never been more evident to me, than it has been with Amy’s project.

Basically it made me realize what makes YSI different and unique as a gap year program. To me it’s the fact that we aim to incorporate our personal talents and interests into our service. We simply want to use the things that make us happy, to make others happy.

(Cienna)

I think this is what gives YSI that edge, we’re not only here to learn how to create service projects and help our society. We are also here to learn how personalize service and use our passions to inspire our projects.

Amy’s project reminded me of this special quality of YSI. Through her project she spread her passion for story telling to the rest of us who then used this inspiration to entertain the kids. It’s that simple

July 1, 2009 at 2:56 PM Leave a comment

Pictures from Freiwilligentag

Tash helping with a cherry blossom Festival

Helping to prepare the BBQ

Helping to prepare the BBQ

Verena Helping with a Cherry Blossom Festival

Verena Helping with a Cherry Blossom Festival

CIMG2873

Amy and Benjamin working together

Amy and Benjamin working together

halt mal! IIIschoenheitskorrekturenshoenheitskorrekturnen II

the "jungle"before the gardening project started.

the "jungle"before the gardening project started.

everyone working to fix up the garden

everyone working to fix up the garden

Jonathan and Cienna clearing away Stinging nettles

Jonathan and Cienna clearing away Stinging nettles

Project complete

Project complete

May 22, 2009 at 1:34 PM Leave a comment

Ireland

(Hyoj)

So last week I went to the Ireland for the first time! …I attended a BiTriMulti training from May 13-17 in Dublin about youth exchanges through the Youth in Action program. The whole program was centered around a simulation game: finding “fake” partners, developing a “fake” youth exchange project, and then filling out a “fake” application for funding. The reason I put quotation marks around the word “fake” is because many of the people there were trying to find real partners and develop a real project. I was there more for the educational aspect, just wanting to learn about steps and methods in developing, organizing, and  implementing a project, so I did feel a bit out of place. Also, people there were quite a bit older; most were late 20’s…even 30’s. Anyway, besides saturating my brain with information, we also had a bit of time to do some sightseeing in Dublin. We went on a double-decker “hop-on, hop-off bus” tour, visiting places like Trinity College, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and many others. For me, it was great to just walk around the city. I like how every big city has a different feel to it; New York City, Frankfurt, Dublin…they are all big cities but completely different. Cool, yah? After walking around a bit, we ate at a restaurant with live Irish music and dancing (Riverdance & Michael Flatley style)

All in all, I’m glad I went. There were definitely some many awkward moments in terms of socializing with people, but then again, when aren’t there 😉 Here’s a picture of the BiTriMulti- Ireland gang… yes, we were a gang.

check out who's front and center! yeaaah, me.

check out who's front and center! yeaaah, me.

Personal progress update: Today I had a meeting with the Amt fuer Multikulturelle Angelegenheiten, an organization that hosts and sponsors intercultural events. I presented my project to them and they are willing to give me funding!…and now I can let out a sigh of relief. *sigh*

May 19, 2009 at 6:29 PM 3 comments

Makeovers

(Verena)

On Thursday Amy, Jonica and I had the possibility to participate in a cosmetic training from our new contact, the Maltesers.

When I first heard about this project by the Mrs. Schulte-Noelle (from Malteser), who planed a beauty day for former drug addicts, I thought that it was such a nice idea. I was directly willing to support this project and I was sure it would be just as much fun for the women as for me.

When I later on realized that the volunteers who will give the massages are getting a professional cosmetic training beforehand for free I thought my dreams had come true.

I always wanted to learn who to give professional massages and I was happy that I could go there.

Surprisingly, besides us there were just five other women in the cosmetic studio, including the model Maria and a journalist who is going to write a book about women projects.

The atmosphere was really nice. We could always ask questions and the make-up artist showed us all her tricks and methods how to let the customer forget all their every day stress.The clients would get the massage for free and if they want even a bit of make up.

Mrs. Schulte-Noelle told us a little bit about her past experiences – that the make-up gave the women new self-confidence and they always got really into the role of being customer and liked to complain about the service. She said it was really nice and amusing for the customers to be put into a position where they have power.

Maria ‘the lucky one’ told me afterwards she could relax very well and she liked the half moon massage on her forehead the most.

I feel whenever we do something for others we always get so much back too.

Now we should start practicing our newly acquired skills… right girls? Today?

May 11, 2009 at 2:10 PM Leave a comment

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