Hello, I am Lisa
I was volunteering with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal at the Welcommon Hostel in Athens, from the beginning of January to the end of June 2021.
It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever made. I think I will never forget the time in the hostel. I learned so much and my experience changed me in a very positive way. I learned a lot and my point of view changed in so many things! I met so many interesting people from different countries, different cultures and they all had different stories. We lived together, cooked together, laughed together and it felt like living in a big family. I think in this time I lost any kind of prejudice I’ve ever had before!
My two main Jobs where giving English and German lessons.
In the beginning it was pretty hard for me to stand in front of a group of people and to teach them a new language and I realized that it takes a lot of confidence. But after a while I got used to this new „teacher“ position and I started having fun giving lessons.
In the German lessons we did a lot of grammar work and it was a really new experience for me to teach my own mother language. I never realized before how tricky the German language can be and I think even me I learned a lot of new things about my language while teaching it.
A good thing was that all my German students where able to speak English so we had a good way to communicate with each other.
The situation in the english lesson was totally different because most of the time I didn’t had a language in common with my students. But I used a lot of pictures and body language and so we managed the communication most of the time pretty well. The main topics in my English lessons where vocabularies and dialogues. I tried to teach them the most important communication skills like for example asking for the bus station or calling a doctor.
Another activity I was doing was the „women’s sport class“. When I arrived at the hostel there was already a normal sports class, but I realized, that I never saw any women participating in this class. So I decided to start a sport class JUST for women and girls. I think that many women where very happy about this offer, because of cultural reasons most of them didn’t feel comfortable to do sport in front of men. In our sport class we did a lot of fitness, yoga and also dancing and we had a lot of fun together. I think that doing sport and being active is something really important if you are in a difficult live situation and I had the feeling that doing sport was very helpful for a lot of the women in the hostel.
In the afternoon when the classes were finished, we used to some activity with the kids of hostel.
In winter we did a lot of different group games inside and when the weather became better we used to go with the kids to a playground in the neighborhood. I had a lot of fun playing with the kids and it was a really good experience having responsibility for a group of children.
Also part of the work in the hostel was to support our receptionists. Usually I worked volunteering three times six hours per week at the reception of our hostel. The work at the reception included the cleaning of the entrance room and the bar, giving hygiene articles to our residents and being responsible for our laundry room. This part of the work was a bit different to the other activities but I also enjoined because working at the reception means to have a lot of interactions with the residents (almost all of them refugees at the moment) and it also shows you what it means to work in a hostel or hotel.
Aside of all these things our volunteer group organized a couple of group activities that should bring all the residents of the hostel together. We did for example a cooking evening where we ate together and everybody was cooking his/her traditional food. Or a summer party where we danced together and learned different cultural dances. We also went to the beach with some residents and made cinema evenings in our backyard. It was a really feeling to see everybody coming together and having fun, no matter where they come from, what they believed in or which language they were speaking.
I think I will never forget the time in the hostel. I learned so much and my experience changed me in a very positive way.