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Volunteering at Werkschulheim Felbertal

Sergio´s experience report

Hello, my name is Sergio and I have been for a year living in Austria doing a volunteering Project (European Solidarity Corps) in Werkschulheim Felbertal. It shouldn´t be easy to think a great year accompained with the pandemic that we are going through but to be honest I believe that I have been in the right place at the bad time. If we think that the right time it was this situation the easiest and the best it could have been to stay with our relatives and closed in our home but the truth is that not everything is about home, we can start and try to find our place wherever and whenever it is.

In this article, I want to show how it has been my experience and at the same time give a positive message to everyone who wants to change or believe that there is something else outside appart from what we know.

By casualty I started a course of german in Tenerife from where I come from without thinking, only for interest and in order to be busy and do more things without much expectation. The reality it was that I found really hard to learn the language and try to get used to learn the basics but something in my inner was saying to me that nothing like knowing three languages as Spanish, English and German can provide you a better future and whatever it happens you could move in some point to a country with better conditions watching at the situation in Great Britain with the Brexit or other countries like Spain as well where the situation is not the best one to find a good work.

So, I said to myself, why not, why not live a new experience, in a new country and learn a new language even if I was studying to work for the government in Spain and have a good job for the rest of my life. I don´t know why but I had all these thoughts and I realised that the best option to adapt in a new country, live there and learn how it works everything is to be involved as a volunteer. For that reasons and others I decided to start looking for projects and start a new adventure in a new country where I could learn german. So, from the beginning my options where Austria or Germany, because I could learn better the language and in a shorter time instead of learning in my country.

So it was, the process started and it wasn´t necessary too much research. I sent some applications but with any of them I had the feeling that it was the right one, until I found the project of “Werkschulheim Felbertal”. Such it was my interest that at the next day that I saw the ad I called directly to the sending organisation and the next day to the school in order to show my interest and try to have the chance to participate in their project. Everything was really quick, the same week they sent to me the confirmation and the good news that I will start in September with this new experience with any expectation only with the motivation to learn more about myself and a new culture.

The following I wouldn´t have expected even if I had thought about it. Werkschulheim Felbertal is not a school, is a family, is a place where the people is really kind, they try to take care about the others and find a solution to any problem in the best way. Werkschulheim Felbertal is a private boarding school that offers a large range of options to do there due to the location and all the areas that they have. In this case, the school have some big halls where they do sports with the kids, all the classes to teach the subjects, the accommodation for the kids, a gym, playgrounds, a eleven football pitch, a dining room, a bar for the kids and the teachers, a beach volley and so on… Is a long list that you only will understand if you go there because is really difficult to summary here.

As a summary, from the beginning I was lucky to have two mentors like Reini and Bettina, as well as the directors like Thomas and Karin that have been the best supporters during my stance and give me the chance to live this opportunity, as well as all the teachers from the school like Toni, Flo, Stefan, Christian, Eberhard and so on that have been a big support. As for the activities that I had to do in the school were focussed on support the teachers in the spanish classes or having conversations groups; helping the teachers in the sport classes; doing football coaching with the kids or sometimes in volleyball; participating with the scouts doing activities and a large range of activities.

To become a volunteer means many things but the most important is the opportunity to grow up and realise about what you can do and all the things that you can offer about yourself to the others. Sometimes we believe that we are really special, and we are, but we need to give the others the opportunity to know us in order to keep knowing ourselves.

During my stance, I have learned many new values and skills like being more tolerant, resilient, trust, optimistic, tolerance to the frustration, be gentler and a believer about your abilities and myself.

At the same time, is a great opportunity to know many people from different countries, know new perspectives, different methods of working, travel to different countries to visit them like Croatia, Eslovenia or Germany and a lot of time for yourself to decide what can be important to do after.

In this year as well, I have learned how to manage a group, organize new activities, dinamics, how to teach, get involve, get use to a new life and a new culture. Furthermore, I have practised many new sports like hiking, climbing, archery, scouts, skiing, paddle surf, volleyball and a large range of outdoor activities. 

As a summary, I only can say to you that is a great time to be happy, learn a lot, know many people like other volunteers, local people or from different countries, value more about yourself and from where you come from to value all the good things that are around, we only need to be focus and open to have new experiences.