Hello, my name is Kelli and I am Volunteering in Yunit Schwaz youth center.
I am from Estonia, but last year before coming to Austria I lived in Latvia. In University I studied hydrobiology and from there I got my bachelor degree. I love nature and everything about that, but not so much about working as a researcher, which is basically too much paperwork, too less being actually in nature. (: After University I finished some more studies. These are accounting, youth work and truck driving. As you may understand little about me – I love studying and am not afraid to get experience in different fields.
More or less I have done youth work ten years from my early 20’s. I started to volunteer in a youth center already in high school where I replaced the local youth worker when she had to be in University. In 2017 the whole year I volunteered in an orphanage and for that I received a letter of thanks recognized by the municipality. I have been a volunteer coordinator in an Animal Society organization and at the same time I was also a group leader for some youth exchanges and wrote one Erasmus + YE project about animal welfare by myself. Two year I worked in Estonia as a youth worker in a youth center.
What I like about youth work is a similar example with city Rome. Rome took thousands of years to build, and it will never be ‘finished’. Youth work grows and evolves over time. Some of the basic things will always be the same – like youths wish to be accepted, loved, listened to and tolerated by others. But there are many things which change in time. So it is important that the youth worker himself is open to changes in youth work and ready to learn anything new at any moment – in youth work, none of your days are exactly the same as the previous one! 🙂
2019 after my short term volunteer service in England I knew I wanted to do a long term volunteer service before I get 31. Because some of the people in that project were from Austria and I really liked how they talked about Austria, I just couldn’t get Austria mountains outside of my head after that. But at that time only one idea was clear: that I want to practice youth work abroad to give later a little fresh air and energy back to Estonia or Latvia youth work. And the other thing I knew what I wanted was that this youth center can’t be completely different from Estonia’s average youth center, because then the changes and ideas will be too big or even impossible to make.
Example in Finland, where they have youth center houses, which are the same sizes as Estonian countryside schools. Inside there they have big gaming rooms, a psychologist, job counselor, hall and so much more. Which all looks very nice and are with a big purpose – youth don’t have to go outside of his/her safe room to get the services he/she needs. I visited Finland youth centers and it was so nice to see and experience it, but it was a little bit far away from Estonian youth center work at that time. Then I started to do my research about Austrian youth centers and found out they are quite similar to Estonian youth centers, but they had little difference, like bars and party rooms inside youth centers. And I decided to give it a try..
And here I am and beside the difficult corona time and lock-down I think I made a perfect choice about the place. In my workplace I am doing youth work – being there for youths, helping them spend their free times, supporting their ideas and building trustful relationships. What I like about the YUNIT is that every worker has a different role to carry and it is fantastic to see how everyone is very professional in their role. I definitely have a lot of things to learn from them. We have a lovely hostess, we have a trusty super active character, we have a fun but specific role and me a trying-to-find-my-role one. Every worker is supported by their own ideas – all the new ideas are welcome and supported by others.
Because right now we have a lock-down we had to change our working style and we are doing activities only online. Within one week I built the E-YUNIT Schwaz Discord server where we are making public video meetings or individual video meetings with youths, posting hand craft ideas, making cooking class live and challenging ourselves with physical activities. Every week I am doing weekly photo/video challenges which we great later as Instagram reel. For celebrating advent time I created an online advent calendar where every day is opening some new idea, challenge or tips on how to make still going corona time easier for yourself and every day remind us also to youth that we are there for them by our contact written.
This is basically my first month volunteering in YUNIT Schwaz youth center. In my free time I like to go hiking and I would like to talk about that also in one moment. Right now I think this post is already too long to read – so thank you if you manage until here. 🙂 So next time I will talk about how I am filling my free time here and maybe share some hiking pictures and tips.