The time to say goodbye is getting closer each day. I will have to leave Vienna soon. I spent an amazing 6 months as a volunteer in Grenzenlos office. My ESC volunteering project was called “Grenzenlos Without Barriers 2019” and I believe that it has changed my life forever, for the better. I went beyond the limits of my life thanks to volunteering here.
When I applied to become an ESC volunteer, I was at a crucial point in my life. As a recently graduated person, my family had huge expectations from me. They wanted me to stay at home with them, find a job and start working immediately. They were already telling everyone they knew that I was going to become an English teacher. I was suffering because I had completely different goals of my own and we were not getting along at all. I felt lots of pressure to fulfil their expectations and I was afraid of being manipulated by them.
Before long, I had to make a choice. On one side, I could stay at home, get recruited in a job and earn some money but it would also mean giving up on myself completely and live for everyone else but myself. On the other side, I could become a volunteer, help people in need, improve my skills and find a way to stay strong, even if it meant being on my own. I chose the second option and have never regretted it ever since.
Everyone in the Grenzenlos office welcomed me and made me feel like I was a part of the team. In the beginning I was afraid of being useless, but they always encouraged me to keep trying and do my best with my activities. These were various but most of the time I worked in the office. I prepared documents and used a computer regularly. I also participated in social events such as volunteer meetups, workcamps and volunteering fairs. Then I designed graphics (posters, etc) and wrote reports about them to be published on Facebook.
One special moment for me was the theater performance I performed together with the other volunteers after our theater workcamp in August 2019. Being on a stage, singing songs in a chorus, acting in various scenes and dancing altogether made me really happy and feel included. It was the happiest moment of my life. Another one was the Metallica concert I went with my personal assistant, because they are my favorite band and I never thought I would be able to see their live concert. It was crowded but we had a lot of fun and sang their songs aloud with everybody else. Both of these experiences showed me that our hearts can be connected by art, no matter who we are.
While volunteering, I learned so many things like the importance of teamwork and meaning of solidarity, but the most important thing I learned is that it is ok to be myself and the right people will love & accept me as I am. I also had to accept the fact that I will not be able to change my past, but I can still make a better future for myself. Volunteering in Vienna with Grenzenlos gave me the strength and courage to go beyond the limits I had in my life. I have no idea what comes next, but I am sure that I will be fine as long as I believe in myself.
If you are reading this and feeling indecisive about volunteering abroad, DO IT! Becoming a volunteer will change your life for good. You will adapt to a different culture and lifestyle than your own, improve your skills, make friends from all over the world and make plenty of precious memories just like I did. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to try new and different things. Time flies so fast when you volunteer – so enjoy the moment! If you need help, do not be afraid and reach out to people to ask their help.
In overall, I feel grateful for being able to volunteer and live in an accessible, supportive environment for the duration of my project. Thank you for everything Grenzenlos!