My name is Maria Duran, I’m 18 years of age and I come from Aveiro, Portugal. My volunteering Project in Austria was from January of 2022 until the 31st of July. I still have some decisions to make about what I want to pursue in the future, although abstract, I have the vague dream of working with animals. I have several motives that made me experience this volunteering project. I couldn’t carry on with university studies right after I finished school; I tried to find jobs to help my parents with our daily lives while I decided what I wanted to do with mine, although with no success. For a while I was doing nothing as a citizen and my conciseness felt heavy because of that, so I offered myself the option of living abroad, I searched the ways and quality of living in several countries, Austria was undeniably on top. With this, the thought of moving to Austria was in the back of my mind, until one day in December of 2021 I received an email from the Portuguese Red Cross advertising this program. Now, I have no idea how they gained access to my email address or why they were promoting projects out of nowhere, I even thought about sending an email back saying that there must be some kind of mistake! But I ended up sending my curriculum and motivation letter and there I was!
I have to admit that at the beginning I thought we as cultures were way more different than we truly are, but now I don’t see that many differences from my country, except that the streets are so clean and tidy, the building in great condition, and your recycling system is very different and there is also some type of harmony in the air, I wouldn’t be able to explain even if I tried.
In my free time I enjoy walking, visiting surrounding cities and countries, sometimes just go to some peoples’ (whom I have met along the way) houses to hang out, sometimes bars and there are times when I enjoy doing absolutely nothing!
I guess in the end Tirol gave me an epiphany, good harmony, and state of being.
Hello, My name is Berna. I started my project in April 2022. I work as a volunteer at Volkshilfe BETA.
BETA is a vocational preparation project for young people with special needs. The aim of the project is to prepare young people for the business world in a targeted and professional way. There are professional trainers and youth coach who train young people here. Sometimes we go to mow the lawn with the young people, sometimes we learn math or English. We also have a workshop where we do creative things. Sometimes we make jewelry there or we work with wood. We give shapes to the board and paint them. This is my favorite activity.
The company is located in Wörgl, Austria. My flat is also located in Wörgl. It is small but very cute. The city I live in is a bit small. That’s why I see the same people every day and it’s easier to make friends in the small cities than in big cities. But the biggest problem I had while making friends was the dialect. I learned german while living in Turkey, but I can only speak high german, so it took me a long time to get used to the Tyrolean dialect. But despite all the difficulties, making new friends, getting to know new cultures and tasting their food excites me.
One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to come here was that I wanted to improve my language. The project provides both online and classroom course opportunities. I also made many friends in this course. I improved my German by talking with them.
One of the two trainings we had to attend in the project, on-arrival-training, was online. Frankly, it was a bit of a disappointment for me because I wanted to meet and spend time with other volunteers. We did the training via Zoom. Although it wasn’t as exciting as being side by side, it was still a fun experience. Immediately after the training we communicated with other volunteers and became friends. We traveled to many places in Austria together. So I think these trainings are useful in many ways and I look forward to the Mid-term-meeting next month!
I am not normally a nature person. I would describe myself more as a city person. However, it is impossible not to fall in love with the exquisite view of the Alps! Every time I go for a walk or hike, the beauty of nature fascinates me. I love the mountains, the scenery and the fresh air here.
I have now finished the 5th month of my project. So I’m almost halfway through. I am very happy with all the experiences I have had so far. I look forward to gaining new experiences and collecting new memories. Thanks for reading.
Berna, volunteer in Volkshilfe BETA, Wörgl coordinated by komm!unity
Life isn’t about finding yourself – or finding anything. It’s about creating yourself. Bob Dylan said that.
My project in Jenbach is finished and my time in Austria – at least for now – is over. It’s been the pleasure of my life to live and work in Tyrol for the last year, and I’m running out of superlatives to describe how contented I was during these incredible days.
The true success of the project, for me, was working with the lads in the Nachmittagschule during the day. I think that Leonardo and I really built something great during this time, and to call it work seems somewhat careless and inaccurate. We had fun from the first minute to the last, and I believe that we genuinely fostered an incredible almost anarchic atmosphere with the boys, and hopefully imparted a little bit of wisdom along the way. Naturally as a volunteer, you wonder what exactly it is that you’re bringing to the project, if you’re really benefitting anyone by being there. I always tried to bring as much enthusiasm, energy, and good music taste as I could to Jenbach, and I can only hope that in the end I offered half as much as I received in return. I don’t imagine I’ll ever again have a job that I honestly looked forward to each day as much as I did working at Point. This kind of work isn’t just fulfilling or rewarding, you can get that from any job, the true magnetism of the project – and what made it for me entirely unique – was that we really just had so much fun.
One of the things I really wanted out of this year was to live more in the moment, to not always be so fixated on what would, or might happen in the future, or spending time just revelling in nostalgia. I was really concerned with capturing moments, either in my mind, through photos, or in retelling stories. I was terrified that if they couldn’t be remembered or if there wasn’t proof that they had happened, then their intrinsic value would be somehow diminished. What if I lose my phone with all my photos, what if Instagram or iCloud deletes all its data 20 years from now, or I move house and lose a photo album? What happens when I get older, and the memory of these moments begin to fade? When I can’t remember the faces, or the inside jokes, or how happy I felt, or how peaceful it all was? Would that make it a waste of time? Did it really even happen if it wasn’t so impactful that I can still recall every detail? Spending the last year in Austria, one of the most important realisations that I’ve come to is this: The true value of a moment, its worth, its magic, comes as it happens. It doesn’t matter if we remember it, or whether anyone remembers it, or that anyone else even knows it ever happened. The fact that it happened at all, that you experienced it, that you shared that experience with someone else, that’s all there is. Whether you’re present enough to live in the moment at all times, or if you just take a second to indulge in an occasion and appreciate its beauty, or if you only embrace the nostalgic warmth of retrospection, it doesn’t really matter. Observed or not, you lived it, and if in 6 months or 30 years you can’t remember the specific details, just remember that it happened.
It’s almost tragic that I only got to spend 11 months in Tyrol, but during this brief time I’ve composed something almost hallucinatory. Coming back to Scotland feels like waking up from a dream, as if life in Austria was entirely separate from reality. I think that speaks to just how astonishingly surreal my time there was. An almost perfect period that – remembered by anyone or not – did in fact take place. I’ve left with a new sense of confidence and purpose, a new appreciation for the agony and the ecstasy of life, and a deeper understanding of intimacy and connection between people. None of these things were found, they were created.
I am currently volunteering at a youth center in Telfs, Austria.
It takes 45 minutes by bus to the city of Innsbruck. It is a small place where many Turks and immigrants live. I wanted to apply for such a project because I wanted to improve my German and work with immigrants. Currently, I support the integration process of the children of families who immigrated to Austria from various parts of the world. Since I can mostly speak the same language with them, they explain their problems more easily and I can find solutions more easily. They allowed me to realize my interests. Since I care about gender equality, I have a mission to inform girls about this. I talk with them and find it very important to encourage them to do what they can. We ensure that all children spend quality time at our center after or before school hours. I am very satisfied with my co-workers and my sending and hosting organization.
The house given to us had everything available and we feel quite comfortable at home. There are 3 people living in the house and I have not encountered any problems so far. My host organization is very interested in my every problem and provides me with support. From the moment we arrived, we started taking German courses in addition to our working hours, and it was very beneficial for me both socially and educationally. Thanks to the course, I made new friends and it helped me a lot in my integration process. If I talk a little more about my working life, I love what I do. My boss and co-workers also supported me a lot in every adaptation process. They are always kind and helpful. My project is about 1 year and I have completed my first 6 months. I had a very good 6 months. Thank you very much everyone.
Hi. I am Denizhan. I arrived in Austria from Turkey on October last year. Since then, I have been working as an ESC volunteer at Telfs. I feel like I’ve been in a dream since I got on the plane from Istanbul. When I set off, I realized that a whole new world was waiting for me. And, indeed, it was. After my plane landed in Vienna, I met up with my friend, who will be volunteering with me on the same project, and we started waiting for our train to get to Innsbruck. It was going to be the first train trip in Europe for me. After a long train journey, we arrived in Innsbruck and my colleague at the place where I will be volunteering picked us up from the train station and then dropped us off at our new home. This is how my first night in Austria started.
The place where I work as a volunteer is a youth center. The children who live here have a quality and fun time coming here. So we chat with them and spend time with them. We try to help them with everything. All of my colleagues at the youth center are beautiful people from each other. I feel like I’ve been one of them since the day I arrived. Their behavior and approach to me, the fact that they help me with everything, shows that they are wonderful people.
Since I came here, I have met many of my friends who work as volunteers in Austria, like me. Everyone has their own characteristics and energy. They are all people with a completely different world from each other. I realized that these people, who grew up with different cultures from different countries and are different native speakers, can somehow gather in a common place and have a lot of fun. This is an amazing experience for me.
Tyrol has an amazing nature. As a person from the metropolis, I was amazed by the cleanliness of the air and the beauty of nature here. It’s the first time for me to live in a place surrounded by mountains. Every morning, when I look out the window, I come across a mountain view. This is where I found out what it’s like to live with nature.
It had only been 1 month since I started living here. One day, while talking to my housemate, she came to me with the idea that Halloween time was approaching and that we could invite your friends for a celebration. I thought that was a great idea, we made our plans and invited our friends to our house for a celebration.
Halloween was not something that was widely celebrated in Turkey, so it was going to be a whole new experience for me. We decorated our house with traditional ornaments. Everyone came in their own costume or makeup. So I gave myself a special make-up for the concept. We had a great night where we ate together, drank something and talked and danced until later in the night.
Volunteers are required to participate in 2 trainings within the scope of ESC projects. The first training is the on-arrival training, which takes place in Vienna, and the other training is the mid-term training, which takes place in Salzburg. The time for the first of this training had come. Together with my friends, we took the train from Innsbruck to Vienna and then checked into the hotel where we were staying for 3 nights. We were already starting to meet new people from the moment I walked in the hotel. They were all valuable people from completely different countries who, like us, worked as volunteers in different parts of Austria. Everyone was very energetic and friendly.
In the training, we watched presentations with a lot of information about ESC projects and Austria. We played games and did workshops together to increase interaction.
2nd stage of education on the day, we were divided into random groups and each group was given a list of tasks to do in Vienna. To be honest, it was great to get lost in a city of dreams like Vienna. I don’t even understand how time passes with my bandmates. I’m sure I won’t forget this experience for the rest of my life.
Another great event was the night when every nation made its traditional meal. We ate, drank and had fun together. Never before I have never felt decently the environment where such a variety of people are together. At the end of this 3-day training, the wonderful people I knew had become my friends. I am looking forward to the second training that will take place in the future.
Christmas is not something that is widely celebrated in Turkey. More often New Year’s Eve is celebrated in Turkey. As I was talking to my friends, I realized that most of them would return to their country to celebrate with their family. I also wanted to use this long vacation. I have set a holiday route with my friends who have not returned to their country. This route consisted of Vienna-Budapest-Prague-Berlin. All of these cities were magnificent from each other and fascinated me with their own unique features. Being on the roads for 1 week was a new experience for me. My first Christmas adventure in Europe was actually like getting to know a new World for me.
When I started volunteering, I knew that I would meet many different people and learn new ways. My new journey, which started at Innsbruck station, has changed my life greatly. I don’t know where the next station will be for now. But this station is a turning point in my life for me, I’m sure of it.
Life has very different dynamics. It may not always be possible to control the dynamics. I think the important thing is to be able to move on. This journey is sometimes full of difficulties and sometimes perfection. I hope everyone will find their own way. Thanks a lot for reading.
Auf dem Blog-Volunteering-Tirol wird Freiwilligen, die in Tirol tätig sind, eine Bühne gegeben. Sie berichten in Blogbeiträgen über ihren Alltag, was sie beschäftigt, was ihre Motivationen sind, was sie lernen und über vieles mehr.
Die POJAT (www.pojat.at) ist ein gemeinnütziger, überkonfessioneller und überparteilicher Verein. Als Dachverband verfolgt er die Vernetzung, Stärkung und Professionalisierung der Offenen Jugendarbeit in Tirol. Zudem ist die POJAT Supporting Organisation für ESK-Projekt (www.solidaritaetskorps.at) in der Offenen Jugendarbeit in Tirol. Derzeit unterstützen fünf Freiwillige aus unterschiedlichen Ländern die Offene Jugendarbeit in Tirol und werden dabei von der POJAT begleitet. Der Blog wird von der POJAT in Kooperation mit Kommunity (www.kommunity.me) betreut.
Sollten Sie Fragen, Ideen, einen Blogbeitrag zum Veröffentlichen oder ein Feedback haben, freuen wir uns, wenn Sie uns schreiben unter firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Blog-Volunteering-Tirol, volunteers who are working in Tyrol are given a stage. They report in blog articles about their everyday life, what keeps them busy, what their motivations are, what they learn and much more.
POJAT (www.pojat.at) is a non-profit, non-denominational and non-partisan association. As an umbrella organisation, it pursues the networking, strengthening and professionalisation of Open Youth Work in Tyrol. POJAT is also the supporting organisation for ESK projects (www.solidaritaetskorps.at) in open youth work in Tyrol. Currently, five volunteers from different countries support Open Youth Work in Tyrol and are accompanied by POJAT. The blog is maintained by POJAT in cooperation with Kommunity (www.kommunity.me).
If you have questions, ideas, a blog to publish or feedback, we would be happy if you write us at email@example.com.
My name’s Stuart, I’m 24, I’m from Scotland and since October of 2021 I’ve been volunteering at a youth center in Jenbach called Point. After only 3 months, I’m unmistakably sure that this is one of the most important moments in my life. Being in Austria has changed my perspective on life, work, language, and friendship. I don’t think I could be here at a better time in my life. There are one or two things I’d like to explore in this blog, such as the relationships that can develop between people from different cultures and the purpose behind these ESC projects.
I’ve met more incredible people in the short time that I’ve lived here than I did in 24 years living in Britain. In Austria I’ve made friends with some of the most astonishingly genuine, excruciatingly generous, sweet, unpretentious, and supremely interesting people that I’ve ever had the fortune of getting to know. I’ve shared experiences with these people that I’ll remember fondly for the rest of my life. Whether it’s coworkers within the project, other volunteers, or loosely connected friends of friends that you meet at a party, it seems like everyone here is implausibly smart, funny, talented and above all, friendly. I’ve been surprised at just how fast friendships can develop, some people just click in a way that I’ve rarely experienced before, with concepts like language barriers and different cultural upbringings being forgotten as the conversations develop. Don’t get me wrong, I feel incredibly blessed to be speaking English, and to have nearly everyone I meet able to understand and communicate in my native language, but again I think this speaks to just how fantastically smart and cultured everyone is. It’s indescribably lovely to hear imperfect English spoken with a Turkish accent, or near perfect English spoken with a Spanish accent, or an Italian accent speaking it better than I do. I feel like there’s so much more to connecting with people than just saying the right words in the correct order, it’s something much deeper than that. The human element of this project will, I believe, remain the defining component of the experience for me in years to come. The friendships and connections that I’ve made here are absolutely unparalleled, and that really amazes me.
In November we went to Vienna and met with other volunteers from projects across Austria. I don’t think I’ve ever met a group of such engaging and unique people, and ones with which I felt I had so much in common. I really believe that after meeting the others, there’s a certain reason that we’re all here in Austria, doing these projects together, connecting, sharing our cultures, and exploring new ones. I think there’s a lot of justification for ESC projects that can be listed on a website or a PowerPoint slide, such as fostering relationships between different European countries and cultures etc. but there’s also an intangible energy that surrounds the concept as a whole. Maybe the projects are just a catalyst for this connection, but I think they play two distinct roles: On one hand they bring you here, give you a reason and a means to live in Austria for a year or so, and thus provide a platform to make these connections, and friendships with others, to meet new people. On the other hand, they can create intrinsic motivation to work, to help others and to experience a lifestyle that isn’t primarily focused on just making money for yourself, but rather on creating an environment in which you can make a difference. I believe that the incentive stemming from living your life – albeit temporarily – with the goal of helping others, is an incredibly powerful and interesting source of motivation, and one that seems increasingly illusive in modern life.
There’s really been too many truly exceptional moments for me to talk about in one blog, perhaps I can write another one after I leave and talk about all the great times I’ve had working with the kids at Point and exploring Tirol. At the end of the day, everyone volunteering here decided to apply for a number of reasons, but I think there’s something more to being here than just how we felt when we sent in the applications, it’s a process that creates its own value as you participate in it. In essence, it’s a privilege to be a part of this project, to be in Tirol right now, and to spend my time with my friends and colleagues here. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing at this moment. Thanks for reading. Peace.
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.
I arrived in Wörgl in mid-June 2021 on a beautiful, sunny day. My coordinator waited at the station, showed me around and gave me all the information I needed… She did her best to make me feel good and comfortable from the beginning. Thank you, Kadri!
This place impressed me from the first moment. I really like this small town, the fresh alpine air and the view of the mountains. I enjoy that nature is so close and I can easily go hiking or cycling. During summer I spent most of my free time outside and discovered a lot of amazing places in the area.
Myproject is very varied, every day of the week is a bit different and always something new is coming. I really enjoy it! I mostly work at youth centres in Wörgl and the surrounding villages. In addition to Jugendtreffs, I help with the office, Frauencafe, Lernfreude and various events.
During my work I met a lot of people. The smaller kids are always nice and it´s easy to impress them. They are always happy to teach me something new in German during the games. With the teenagers it is a bit harder, but as I get to know them better and as my German knowledge improves it´s getting easier and easier. Luckily my colleagues are kind and patient. They help me a lot and make the work more enjoyable.
The first weekend I spent here there was a summer party, where I met nearly everyone who is working at komm!unity. It was nice to be there, even if I struggled with the language. I studied German at high school, but I didn`t really use it for a long time. This knowledge was enough to say some words about myself and to understand them when they talked slowly without dialect. Of course the conversation was mainly in dialect and when they talked fast to each other it was impossible to understand them. Nevertheless, I tried to concentrate all the time and catch some words, phrases. It was tiring and not easy, but funny at the same time.
I could have spoken with them in English, but I decided to talk in German from the beginning because I knew this is the best way to learn. After a month one of my colleagues was surprised how much I had improved. I already felt that my passive knowledge started slowly to turn on active again.
The other volunteers are nice as well. It is always good to meet people who are in the same situation as you. During summer we had some great adventures together. We went hiking, swimming, cycling together, visited a festival above 2000 meters and so on… It was a very nice time!
Unfortunately most of them left already, but now new volunteers have arrived. I am sure we will soon have many memories together. I look forward to it.
All in all I really enjoy this project and I am glad to be here!
My name is Jesús, I am Spanish, and I have been a volunteer worker in Tirol.
In 2020, I decided to turn my life around – what a turn! Therefore I left Spain. Even though these were difficult times, Covid era, I thought it could be worth it. And yes, I have the Jesus of the past to thank for having made that decision despite all the difficulties.
For this reason I started looking for an association in which I could volunteer. I found one called Arche Tirol. At that time I did not know Tyrol very well, I only knew that there were many mountains, that it was very cold, and that Heidi’s house was there (more or less).
I contacted the association, who take care of people with intellectual disabilities. Just what I had trained for! I began to see photos of the area, the type of work carried out by the association with the users, and every time I was convinced more and more. I thought “if there is another quarantine, I want to spend it there”.
In the end, and after interviews and many emails, Arche gave me the go-ahead. I came here, as we say in Spain, “with one hand in front and one behind”. Not knowing German, not knowing anyone here, just traveling by plane alone, scared of turbulence.
Well, all this stuff just to say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have met great people, I feel like home here. I’m so good that I think I’m going to stay one more season… or two ;). Arche has hired me as a worker, and I am so happy! Spain can wait a bit.
From time to time it is good to say goodbye to your comfort zone and go out to find new experiences, to live new things, to meet new people …
Before I finish, I want to share with you the question that made me come here, and that I ask myself regularly every time I want to get out of my comfort zone but I don’t dare:
What are you going to regret, to do it, or not to do it?
Without anything else to say, I want to thank all the people who have supported me this year, who have helped me to adapt more easily to the country, the people of Arche Tirol, and especially also the people of my voluntary association, InfoEck, who have been working hard so that we all feel comfortable and warm.
Thanks for your attention, and greetings to all who are reading this!