You can have many homes, but there is always that one place you can truly feel whole. This, for me, is the SOS Children’s Village Tirana in Albania where I grew up. The small village was always the perfect home for me. So I couldn’t wait to start my internship at SOS Berlin – an opportunity to experience what SOS means to other people. My stay was superbly organized by SOS Kinderdorf Germany so that I would be able to fulfill my three goals.
My first goal was to get to know the structures and programs of SOS in Berlin. In Berlin I had the chance to take part in different programs run by SOS such as the Mother-Baby Group, Gymnastics for senior citizens and in street plays – oh those were simply the best. Though this was something different from my small, traditional village, it was very exciting. All this made me think about the original meaning of “SOS”-Societas Socialis – which means “social community”. I could truly feel how this social community is very much entrenched in all these programs.
Since I study German Studies at the Faculty of Foreign Languages in Tirana, my second goal was to make use of the opportunity to practice my German. And I did it! I loved how the SOS co-workers showed so much positivity when helping me to express myself in German. I was fascinated by their fluent German – and their patience and ability to slow down and repeat some things when I had not understood them correctly. It felt so great to hear myself having a flowing conversation in German – the language came naturally to my lips.
Volunteering in a special afternoon program called “Straßenspiele” (street-plays) was my third goal. Every afternoon, from Monday to Friday, the SOS yard became the most colorful, joyful and dynamic place. I, along with the other young volunteers, had to plan and make decisions about the activities and games to be played daily. We of course always had the professional staff members to help us whenever necessary.
I loved listening to the people who spontaneously shared their stories
When the program started, most children came with their parents and took part in whatever was fun for them: some played freely on the ground – alone or in groups. Others danced, sang, shared stories, just to mention a few. In all this you could see the boundless creativity and joy. I truly enjoyed being in the midst of all this – mixing my energy with theirs!
I mostly loved listening to the people who spontaneously shared their stories, and allowed us to learn from their challenges and successes. These experiences really touched my heart.
Berlin is for me Germany’s most international city – the multicultural tolerant capital; with a variety of glamorous shops, streets, buildings and tourist attractions. Berlin is a city with a free-spirit, full of art, history, languages, people, you name it. The lively and welcoming SOS programs were the embodiment of all these wonderful attributes of Berlin. I could easily fit into both worlds – the city of Berlin on the one hand, and the SOS programs on the other.
Looking back, I would say the affection we had for each other, the joy and love we shared were the highlight of my time in Berlin. I felt absolutely at home!
Since I am interested in social work, communication and foreign languages, I thought that the time in Berlin would be a big help with finding out which path I should take in my studies. Well… after Berlin, I still feel like I am at a crossroads. But I know that it’s a matter of time before I find the right direction to follow – never backwards, always forward!
As one of my favorite quotes says: “If it were me, I would be carrying another heavy piece of luggage to every possible airport on this Universe. But right now, I am busy finding my way…”