WHAT IS YOUTH WORK

Before coming to Park In I asked myself what would make me a good youthworker.

I knew that the team was very motivated and willing to involve me in every activity. I also wanted to genuinely learn and give my individual contribution.

Being here for more the three months now, I have found out some interesting things that I think every youth worker shares and that makes his or her job so very valuable.

THE WILL TO DO GOOD.

Sounds obvious, but it´s actually not. Not everyone in every field checks in everyday at work with the will to improve the life of people around them; even if that means to listen and pay attention to a single person for an afternoon, or to hang Christmas gift packages to the door so that youngsters can take them. Or to turn on the air diffuser with essential oils or prepare questions to interview the kids about crucial matters.

ABILITY TO LISTEN.

It´s easier said than done. It is easy when someone, especially if younger, brings an issue to your attention, to want to give an advice. Or maybe, tell them what would be best for them. It comes not natural to just take a step back and listen. With no judgement and no answers. But with openness and understanding instead.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE.

Rules are there to be respected. And youthworkers are there also to help the kids to follow them. This naturally pushes them to keep their accountability in check and be an example for the youngsters. We know that people learn by imitation primarily, and this is crucial when working with younger kids that are often searching for someone to look up to.

CREATIVITY.

In this crazy times of a World wide pandemic we are leaving in restrictions. Most of the activities that were possible before, are no longer allowed. It can be hard to find the motivation to show up with a smile and the right attitude when your job consists mainly in contact with people and now that is in stand by. But still, the focus is always on the solution, never on the problem. Whenever I was asking a question the first answer was never „no“, it was „but, maybe…“. The energy is used to find a creative, different solution.

Those are just few of the elements that youth work consists of. I hope that with time and more experience, I can get to learn even more of them, and grow. In the meantime, I can just be grateful for the amazing opportunity to see this qualities realized in the everyday life.

Ilaria.

EXPLORING PLACES, THOUGHTS AND YOURSELF

During this crazy pandemic times it is easy to feel stuck and unsafe, yet some people take advantage of this slow and unsettled era to explore. To explore not only foreign countries, but also and maybe most importantly, different cultures and parts of themselves.

We have some sneak peek of their of their life abroad so far. Let´s dive into their experiences, starting with Baha:

“Due to my high interests about foreign cultures and diversities, I decided to have a social year as a volunteer. I was expecting to improve my multicultural knowledge, learn new languages and discover different cultures. For me that was the way to observe the effect of culture and language on people’s perceptions, behaviors and living styles. Then at the end i could remove borders in my mind and gain better understanding and different approaches of people who are different from me. During my first days of volunteering, I felt that I was exactly in the right place. The place was a Youth Center where I can get in touch with a lot of children from many places of the world. The thing that made me most excited was speaking 3 different languages everyday and switching from one to another instantly during the day. In those moments I felt that I was exactly in the place where I wanted to be.Although only 3 months have passed I feel myself more open minded and with more tolerance about differences. Day by day I learn more about the value of diversity. Once for all, it felt amazing to do a favor without expecting anything and see smiles in their faces.”

Let´s continue with Aleksandra´s words:

“Even if I had any doubts or concerns before coming to Austria, they all faded away as soon as I met my crew, my neighbours and of course the teenagers – the amount of support I received was just amazing. The Tyrolean community was so welcoming that Schwaz instantly became my new beloved home. I am happy that I found a place, where diversity is cherished and everyone can feel safe. I am going to do my best to contribute to the work of the youth centre’s stuff.”

It is interesting to see how important it is to feel welcomed and to perceive a home environment away from home, even when we look for a challenge or a new experience. Linda has also highlighted that concept with her words:

“I first decided to engage in a volunteer project abroad because I wanted to make new experiences and meet new people from a different cultural environment. I didn’t want to create expectations before my departure: I was taking the leap and was ready to welcome everything new with a positive attitude. When I first came to Tyrol I immediately felt that I had made the right decision: the people were welcoming, the environment stimulating and the landscape just dreamlike.During these first months I feel that I have learned a lot about myself, the others and about how to deal with many different situations. I had the occasion to be helpful to people who often come from a difficult background and this had a great impact on my self-development. At the same time, being part of an international community of young volunteers gave me the motivation to overcome the little struggles in everyday life.”

I certainly share many of the feeling expressed by my fellow international explorer! The first word that came to my mind when I stepped into Park In was : Cool. This youth center where I started to work and the beginning of October 2020 really reflects in its aesthetic the purpose that it has; a place where everyone is different and equal, a safe space to share thoughts, music and creativity. My purpose for 2021 is to learn more everyday about that, Austria and Tirol, traveling around as soon as possible! Forever grateful for the chance that I got.

I am sure that even in this challenging times we will all use our time in this beautiful country for the best, always connected.

Ilaria