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

TIROL THROUGH FOREIGN EYES

Today I opened my window when I woke up and I was reflecting about my new lovely hometown.

They say that moving abroad has different phases, the first is the honeymoon phase. It is described as being filled with excitement and curiosity.

Hi, my name is Ilaria. I come from Italy and I have moved to Hall in Tirol in October 2020. As a person who has lived in a foreign country two times before moving to Austria, I can definitely confirm that feeling of enthusiasm and adventure that comes with moving.

Every ordinary task seems new, sceneries are fresh and the opportunity to discover everything is fascinating.

Nevertheless, every single place holds a unique charme and peculiar taste.  It is often hard to describe exactly the sensations that a place is able to communicate. Therefore, I would like to do it through my five senses, so that you can experience Tirol as if you were in my head, through lenses of foreign eyes.

AESTHETIC

Pure white snow on the mountains surface, illuminated by the sun, makes a perfect contrast with the blue sky.

As much as I am used to see mountains around me since I grew up under the Italian Alps, I am stll amazed by how majestic they look here. Even when the weather is not clear and looks foggy, they have a fantastical glamor.

Autumn, my favourite season,is turning the colours from green to orange,yellow and gold. No better way to mark the succession of the Seasons. Everythig is now evolving.

SMELL

There is a cute organic bakery, just down the street, couple minutes away from my apartment here in hall in Tirol. Everytime I pass by, this is what I smell: cloves, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cooked apple.

If I go  towards Mills for a walk in the woods I can see the pretty houses with their small gardens and I smell the scent of burning wood and fresh grass.

SOUNDTRACK

Except for the sound coming from the skatepark just nearby my apartment, I can hear the bells from the village church, they remind me of home, together with the singing birds in the morning.

 Also, If I take a walk in more remote areas I can clearly distinguish the sound of the river flowing. The wind through the leaves of trees, is caressing everything.

TASTE

Hands down, Tirol to me tastes like chees. Chees and butter. Like a comforting meal when you get home after a long walk . Like a warm, enjoyable soup during a cold winter day. No coincidence one of the best dishes is Spatzle.

TOUCH

Cozy. Warming wool. A homemade, soft sweater that you can wear for a family gathering or a brunch with friends.

I hope I was able to convey my appreciation for this beautiful corner of paradise that is kindly hosting me for the next year. I would not want to be anywhere else right now. I am very grateful for this opportunity .

DANKE.

Ilaria.

Gardening in virus season?

Probably, you think about what to do in a long period indoors. But not everything must be indoors! Some of you may have a garden, so guys you have time enough to work on your personal garden!

During these days, I have been working on my garden. As you can see, no one touched the garden in months! Of course we thought in October that snow and cold would clean the garden by winter. That was far from true… After even February, the grass was still growing! Our timetables and the lack of tools made us procrastinate and letting the garden issue apart. Suddlenly, the virus came and we had to make quarantine. I had no doubt of it, I said “I have to clean this garden by once!”. All the labour started under a beautiful shining-sun.

You can see no one helped in a long time
Still, the process was painful and my hand got injured. It was the first time a make this sort of work.

The labour was hard! There were so many grass between and under the flagstone. I took the globes and a plastic bag. I was willing to clean up everything as far as I can! However, the sun is strong and the grass too. So we planned a different goal: we need a courtyard. Why? There was a shining sun and fresh air. I addmit also that we were lazy enough and we didn’t want to make everything in one day. But this also was a good idea to take the sun and enjoy the atmosphere with chilling mornings under the light.

Finally, we managed to clean up a big area. The flagstone was cleaned enough, the leaves were put into the rubbish and all the insects got far enough from us. Thus, we finished! We just needed now to use the wood as chairs and then put a table on the center. Do you want to see how ended up?

YES! We had a marvelous lunch under the sun outside.

You may have no garden? Well, gardening is not only clean a courtyard and remove bugs. You can have flowers in a window or you can try to plant vegetables in a small pot! I invite you to visit different web pages to guide you or giving you more ideas. Internet is big! And now you have no excuses to finish your job or getting bored at home. Do your best in this troublesome season!

Of course, try not to lose your mind!

José M. Gómez