25.07.17 | News

Goodbye to Germany and Preparations for Going Abroad

Every July in Stuttgart, the paths of the North-South volunteers and the South-North volunteers of the Ecumenical Youth Volunteers Programme (EYVP) of EMS cross.
[Translate to EnglEYVP volunteers dance together at the seminar in Stuttgart.isch:] ÖFP-Freiwillige tanzen gemeinsam beim Seminar in Stuttgart.

Dancing connects people - North-South volunteers and South-North volunteers get to know each other. (Foto: EMS/Lehrbach)

The South-North volunteers had to say goodbye: from 19th to 21st of July they had their final seminar at the EMS Secretariat. It ended with a ceremony during which they received their certificates. The seminar gave them the opportunity to look back at the last six months spent in German hosting congregations - and to look ahead at what is next. What are the volunteers' plans after their return to India, Korea and Hong Kong? And how can they all stay in touch - as part of the EMS youth?

One possible answer to this question was the meeting with the future German volunteers who were staying in Stuttgart at the same time to preparing their voluntary service abroad. North-South and South-North volunteers had the opportunity to meet each other in the evenings and on the weekend. The exchange between these two groups has proven valuable over the years. For example, a former South-North volunteer from India, Melina, arranged a meeting with the German volunteers once they reached her home country to show them her city. Vice versa, German volunteers abroad - for example in Cameroon - help to prepare future South-North volunteers for their stay in Germany.

While the South-North volunteers had to say goodbye, the excitement of the German volunteers about their soon-to-begin adventure was palpable, while also tinged with slight fear of the unknown. It is quite normal for many volunteers to wonder whether they will be able to face the challenges that come with volunteering abroad. This is why the exchange with former volunteers is especially important. Solidarity within the group provides reassurance that even difficult situations can be dealt with. All in all, the young adults dedicated nine days to their personal preparation for the coming months. Shortly after the seminar, the first volunteers started their journey to their respective places of service.

29 German volunteers are travelling to eight countries, working in social institutions for six to ten months. They will get to know life in a culture that is unknown to them and will have many new experiences. During this time, they will keep friends, relatives and other followers updated about their experience by writing an online blog in German.

EMS wishes God's blessing to all volunteers for their journey ahead. For the EYVP team, it is enriching to witness when the paths of people from different cultures cross and bring forth a network of relationships.

Annika Hilton-Ganter