In German we have a saying „Jeder ist seines eigenen Glückes Schmied“
It might sound a bit cheesy, but it basically means that you are responsible for your own luck and happiness. Sounds easier than it is, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many books about how to be happy.
However, there is a lot of truth in this saying.
I am Hannah, nineteen years old and from Vienna, Austria.
One yar ago I woke up every day at seven o`clock, to go to the same school, to meet the same people and honestly to do the same thing all week long. And the next day I would do it all over again. I was doing this for basically 12 years- and now I am supposed to go to university and do the same thing for at least another 3 years. Even though that’s how life sometimes is, it didn’t bring me the joy and happiness I wanted.
As much as I enjoy learning new things, I wanted to do something different. Something where I learned things that are useful for me and my everyday life right away and not just after I finished my bachelor.
That’s when I started my research on what I could do to fulfil myself. And I found the answer in the European solidarity Corps. I signed up and found great project!
Centro Papa Giovanni XXIII is a center for people with disabilities located in Ancona, Italy. I was a bit overwhelmed, because I have never worked in the social sector, however I knew, everybody must start somewhere. And so I decided to spend 9 months in Ancona, a beautiful city close to the sea, with truly wonderful people.
I was so happy to be there; however, I was also a bit scared. It was a jump into cold water for me and I didn’t know if I managed to swim. But when I saw how warmly the people working in the center welcomed us, I knew it was the right choice. I was and still am incredibly happy to be part of this experience. The people who worked there and the “ragazzi” who lived or visited the center are truly amazing people and made my workdays just great.
I always started my day together with my roommates. Most of the times we would leave the house together and go to our workplace where the educators and OSS always welcomed us warmly.
The four of us would always rotate between the Day- Care Center and the Residence.
In the Day- Care Center we would wait for the people to arrive and go to the community room to start the day in a nice manner. Afterwards, everybody would go to a specific room to do things such as preparing wedding favours, doing crosswords together, check the newest posts on Facebook or do a massage class together. We would support the educators as good as possible.
The work in the residential center is different, but a truly, truly amazing thing. Whenever I would walk in, I was just greeted so incredibly warmly. Sometimes we would go for a walk or to the Mall. On other days we would bake together or prepare gifts for Christmas. The educators, OSS and nurses were very nice and it just felt like a big family.
Making bonds with the people that visit or lived at the center is really the most amazing thing. They just had so much love to give and made everyday unique.
However, there is also another side of volunteering besides the work aspect. My roommates and the other volunteers played a big role in my personal journey. We met each other frequently and it is so beautiful to spend time with people who are very different from oneself but share the same core values.
I learned so much about myself and other people while living in a shared flat and by travelling with friends. I became independent and gained more self-confidence. I also became more secure of how I want to spend my life. But not only that: I can really say for myself that I became happier because I learned more about life and about myself. I am incredibly grateful to be part of this experience. In the end we really are “unser eigener Glücksschmied”.