European Solidarity Corps – Team 10/2022 „Solidarity with Refugees in Europe”
Blog Article, Roberta Di Nunzio
During the two-week European Solidarity Corps – program (“ESC”), a group of 11 internationals from 9 European countries got together to support the work of VISIONEERS, a recognized Nonprofit Organization committed to help socially disadvantaged young people in Berlin.
As volunteers, we were asked to work with a group of (underage) refugees who have just recently arrived in Berlin from different countries such as Kurdistan, Syria, Cambodia, Libya and Lebanon. Before engaging with the participants*, my colleagues and I attended the workshop "Flight and Poverty" by Heidi, a specialist that has worked in several migration camps all over the world. She lectured us about the main causes of flight and the dynamics behind migration policies, the correct terminology to use when speaking about migration issues and the challenges and responsibilities of our generation in this crisis. The training was very helpful, and it was for many of us a way to understand our privileged situation and to question our purpose in this project.
Another important training involved the listening to the story of a former refugee from Afghanistan, Zara, who kindly opened up to us and shared with us her journey to Germany. Thanks to Zara's story we were able to better understand the reality we were about to step into. She reminded us that those young refugees we were about to meet were nothing but teenagers and so, they should be treated as such.
In the following weeks, we volunteers participated in planning and organizing free time activities with the participants on weekends and afternoons in or around Berlin like city tours, museum visits and sport activities like volleyball and football. We ate together and shared hobbies. The participants were always very excited to be involved in such activities and, even though the language barrier did not make it easy, after just a couple of days, we all started to get along, and we learned how to communicate through verbal and non-verbal means. Some of us tried to learn some Arabic and Kurdish words, to show the participants our interest in them and their own culture. We also planned a “European Solidarity Open Day”, where we informed young participants of the opportunities to travel to other European countries while doing voluntary work.
The smiles, the energy and the kindness of both the volunteers and the participants brought us closer together and by the time the project ended, we were all very sad to say goodbye. I would recommend joining the ESC because it was a very formative experience. One can learn a lot about themselves and the society we live in. It teaches you empathy and understanding; it connects you with many people of different nationalities and shows you that, beyond borders, beyond cultural differences, we are all one. We are all inhabitants of this earth, and we all have the right to a decent life, free from wars and famine.