My name is Lia Thiede and I’ve spent 2 months in the Welcommon Hostel volunteering, as a participant of the European Solicarity Corps project “Social Green Innovation for Young People” implemented by the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal. These two months have been a very enriching and educational time.
When I first arrived I knew no one and didn’t really know what to do when I entered the classroom and tried to educate my students on the german language. Luckily there were my co-volunteers and the staff of Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal, who soon turned into friends, that helped me get through this adapting period with useful tips and advice on how to be at ease and still be a good teacher.
Sadly after the first month the lockdown came and we had to cancel all outside classes. But we figured out a solution and had classes exclusively for the residents, so we could keep up teaching during the lockdown. We designed a new schedule, with new classes to execute during lockdown. Unfortunately our planned classes didn`t match the sleeping schedules of the residents so we had to adapt to that. But little by little we created a kind of normality during the strangest of times.
What I liked most about my time in the Welcommon Hostel as a ESC participant, was the teaching and the exchange with the students and really connecting with my co-workers and making a lot of friends in the process. Our students were so grateful and happy about every lesson they had. Every time they exited the classroom they had a smile on their lips and said: “thank you teacher“, which always warmed my heart. Furthermore they were really ambitious and anxious about learning languages from us, some even learned extensively at home more than what was expected from us with homework. I always thought this ambition and passion was very inspiring and I´ll always cherish their motivated faces in my memory. I think I will try to be as ambitious going forward as these people were, having faced things I couldn’t even imagine.
My go to memory of that time are the long talks we had with some of our students about how they fled from their home afraid of being killed, if they don´t leave everything they know behind. It still moves me until this day to think of all the things they have told me and all the things I´ve learned from them whilst volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel. Right from the start I really liked the concept of the Welcommon Hostel: to combine sustainable tourism with the accommodation of refugees and by doing so creating an exchange between these two groups. Concerning the fact that tourism collapsed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I think the concept still worked alone by volunteers from all over Europe and refugees living together.
It was a wonderful experience being part of the communinty of the Welcommon Hostel and learning and growing together with friends, mentors, refugees and coworkers.