So yes, winter came! And with it came many good tidings, love and warmth. This Christmas was very special for me; I celebrated with my German host family in Berlin and in Hamburg. It was Merry. I remember one particular thing about Christmas Eve; we visited the grave to light candles for my host mother’s husband who passed away more than two years ago. As I stood with them also holding a candle myself, I felt snowflakes on me…. it had started to snow, but very lightly.
It’s not very common to have a white Christmas in Berlin. But that night, or at least for that particular moment, it did. And it was magical and movie-like. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow! This is definitely so much more than a volunteer program; I have a second family too, in Germany.” That season, there were always great foods, drinks, baked cookies and cakes, presents, a few old German traditions, new friends, families and I gained a few kilos.
But the darkness was not something that we were used to, so it did affect us in some way. Sometimes, we were not able to be as active as we wanted to be. At some point, we also felt we were not utilising our time well, because all we wanted to do was go home and get under the blanket, and stay warm. Many a times, we didn’t see the sun for days. So, it was a little bit challenging. But nevertheless, I was more excited about the snow than the coldness, even though we didn’t have a lot of it in Berlin.
Luckily, we had a group seminar in Walsieversdorf, and there was slightly more heavy snow there, and a frozen lake where we could actually walk on. But unfortunately, we were forbidden to go further on the lake because of the risk involved, as we were told it’s not frozen enough, but anyways, we had a great time there just to witness everything.
I hosted yoga workshops for both the seminar days in the morning and I was quite surprised that apart from the cold and our busy schedule, people even woke up earlier to attend. The workshop was not in the same building as we slept in. We had 2 buildings and a seminar hall. I also surprised myself by waking up earlier than usual while it was still dark, cold, wet, I found myself walking in the snow towards the other building. This reminded me that sometimes responsibility pushes and motivates you to work harder and stay focused.
And, we definitely had a fun yoga session. Two of them learnt how to do a headstand on their very first day, with a little help of the wall, but still an impressive achievement. We are always being introduced to new social subjects every seminar, new volunteers or ex-volunteers who will, or have shared a similar journey as us. I, personally always look forward to every gathering we have, because we are given enough time and freedom to reflect on our past months, present and what is ahead of us.
We also get the chance to catch up with our fellow volunteers, and we all love it very much to share our experiences, and work together with new ideas. Otherwise, most of us are really busy and hardly have time to catch up. One common question most of us come up with, ask among ourselves or put forward to our German coordinators is ‘What happens after our volunteer service? Scope, opportunities, options, studying, work etc.
Well, in our very recent seminar in April, they were able to help us by giving a short introduction to possibilities, ways, social organisations, informing and educating us as to how can we approach or plan our ways after our volunteer service. All of us are very grateful for their efforts, because with less than 4 months left, we were starting to question a lot on our roles, purpose and plans apart from the volunteer service, but as an independent individual. After the seminar, we were able to have some kind of direction, which is a very important step.
I strongly believe that IJGD (Germany), FSL-India and other organisations are successfully living up to what it stands for. Every single day, I see it working on me, working on my friends. We are growing as individuals. Youths who are more aware about themselves, their surroundings, who are able to pay attention to social issues, to act and take part in it, bring forward ideas, to overcome challenges, to be able to withstand hurdles and overlook differences and come to a mutual conclusion of understanding, we are EVOLVING. And I love it.
Many of us have an idea of what we would like to do, or how we can continue to actively contribute in the society, or in fact our world! (Let’s look at the bigger picture here) and many of us have already started with projects we would like to do here, or in our home country. I think it will be yet another great start right after a good end to our service!
I was able to travel to France, Sweden and more places inside Germany. Another beautiful experience, again! The art, people, the landscape never cease to amaze me.
Time seems to not wait for anyone. It only seems like yesterday that I was there in Bangalore, in the pre-departure training seminar. I remember we were writing letters to ourselves, letters stating our goals, objectives, expectation, fears etc. and we were told that we will read that letter once we are back in India and reflect in relation to what we wrote. And honestly, I clearly remember some of the things I wrote. For example, an expectation or a goal I want to achieve. And I realised I am not even close to achieving it, well at least for one or two goals that I have written it down.
I ask myself today, would I regret it. Would I feel upset, regret that I am likely to not achieve those goals or not able to follow my plan? The answer is simple and it is a clear ‘NO’. I realised here that it’s good that you can prepare and plan for your future; set goals etc. but if you cannot achieve or not able to act on what you have proclaimed earlier, it does not necessarily mean you are laid back in any way.
Because I have achieved more than what I thought I could, received more than I have asked for, gave more than I intended, growing every day, learned more than enough, this journey is always full of adventures, and I believe there is no adventure if you know and have planned your every single step and you know what’s coming next for you. That’s not living! And also, I have decided I would really like to keep my adventurous life going! Thank you, FSL-India for giving me this wonderful opportunity.