Life as a European volunteer in Stuttgart, Germany
„There are moments that change your life“ (Maria Jose Aguilera, Mexico)
To summarize such beautiful, big and enriching project in three pages is not easy, but this previous comment at the beginning gets closer to what Intercooltour 2014 has meant to me.
The main purpose of this project was that during a short (yes, short) period of time as it was for two weeks, young people from several nationalities joined to share and work together, firstly as a group itself and then with other groups, in this case summer camps.
This year people from three countries joined: Marijo, Moises, Paco, Dennis and Mario brought us Mexico closer… Sipho, Kabelo, Lerato and Billy let us know Southafrica… and Alina, Clara, Theresa, Ronja, Julian, Nathalie and Janine made us feel home, here in Germany.
Plus, we had a guest from Los Angeles, Lucy.
To coordinate such an international group, we were as teamers (and in many occasions as well entertainers, musicians, clowns, drivers, cooks and in general participants as the rest of our “kids” as we used to say): Jessy, Freddy and Tine (Germany) and me, Nazaret (Spain)
Personally, I started enjoying this project as soon as I know I could take part in it, in the very first moment I started with Tine, Freddy and Jessy preparing the program for what would be one of the best projects I have taken part in.
The idea was that during the first days we worked as an “Intercooltour” group itself and then we moved to the different summer camps to share some days with the children who enjoy their summer there.
For that, we enjoyed three days together first in the “Naturfreundehaus” in Aidlingen (next to Stuttgart) For me , it was beautiful to observe these days how the group was being formed, and how since the beginning it started working as a big family.
The topic chosen for make these days the group together was theatre. Jessy and Freddy (thank you!) organized several workshops in the mornings in such a way that, through easy improvisations, each one of us could make us known for the rest, not only verbally but also through body language. For me, it was really positive, especially from the answer that we all gave, despite we didn’t know each other; despite most of us don’t play theatre regularly.
In the afternoons we prepared games for the camps we would visit afterwards. From this time I would like to highlight how each of us became a child. It was especially fun to observe the group in that hill in Aidlingen, running after a ball or practicing the different greetings from our countries.
Besides, we had international dinners, cooked by the different countries. We enjoyed Mexican, Southafrican and German dinners, and in a way, we had as well a taste of the different cultures.
However, from these days, I would choose those details that made it work so well: The mixture of languages, the dances from Southafrica, the music; as permanent element in these days, and above all the open attitude of each of the participants.
After these three wonderful days, we started visiting the summer camps where we would work with the children. Recounting every moment lived there would be very long, therefore I will just highlight the best moments of each camp.
In Böblingen we had 220 children aged 5- 14 years old. I would stress the afternoon there, when the group changed the camp into a big cultures party, where the kids danced and sang in Spanish, reproduced Southafrican legends and above all worked as a single group with us.
Later on, we moved to Heidenheim, where we spent three days firstly with the teamers- Big thank you to all of them, who hosted us as part of their group and provided us with three days of resting and made us feel like home. From this camp, I would highlight the morning we spent playing with all of them and how much fun we had with them.
The next one was Besigheim, which was a party in every sense, not only for the kids but also for all of us. In a way, my feeling was that the group worked already without the need of communicating a lot and therefore, each time it was easier to work all together; and enjoy so much doing it, that the kids seeing it, got the same spirit. And, as in a cycle, made us enjoy more and more in a way that we ended up exhausted but happy.
The last one was Heimberg, and for us almost the last day of the project. For me it was a special day because in a way, it was our farewell after so many (and at the same day so few) days of living this together. I think this was as well the general feeling of the group and that’s why it was so beautiful to have this last time with the children, who we developed our last program with and gave us such a good response again. Thank you as well to the teamers from Heimberg for hosting us and for the fun time in the last night.
There is not much more to add. Only that during this time we kept growing as a group and working each time more easily, breaking the language barrier, creating a special way of communication in a way that each of us was an essential part in the group and made it grow as the time passed by…
For me it has been a gift to get to know and become a part of this group. Sharing so many conversations, so many thoughts, all of them understood from a different perception and culture, but at the same time created in an environment of tolerance and respect.
I consider that this kind of project is deeply necessary for the moment we are living nowadays. When in each of us tolerance and respect exist, as well as affection, no matter the nationality or the background of the person we have in front of us, then we are undeniably growing; and it is this kind of self growing the one which makes us better persons.
“I realized that language is never the issue,that throughout the world there is a place for a new regeneration” (Billy Langa, Southafrica)