My name is Ondrej Holan, I come from the Czech Republic and I am a volunteer (formerly known as the European Voluntary Service, now part of the European Solidarity Corps) in CGE Erfurt.
There are two seminars that are part of this project. The first one is called On-Arrival seminar. As the name suggests you attend this seminar in the beginning of your voluntary service. Here you can meet some new friends that are part of the same program and later you can visit each other. You will learn about your rights and responsibilities. You will play ice-breaker games, visit the city centre and have a lot of fun. I had this first seminar in Hannover.
The second seminar is called Mid-Term seminar. The name says it all. You will have this seminar in the middle of your stay. I had mine just recently in the beautiful city of Würzburg, Bavaria.
I travelled to Würzburg by train. From Erfurt it takes just over two hours. Then I hopped into the tram (Straßenbahn) that goes directly from the main train station through the city centre and continues to the periphery of the city where the venue was located. I was (surprisingly) the first one to arrive. The seminar started over the hot cup of tea or coffee accompanied by the Bavarian Bretzel, because we were waiting for some late-arrivals to come to the venue. It was there where I had met one of the people who were on my first seminar. I was so happy to see him. Then the seminar started officially and we introduced ourselves and created together a program for the upcoming days.
On Tuesday we played small games to remind ourselves the names that we forgot overnight. We played some energizers. After being fully charged we moved to the next part of the program. We were split into two groups. In those groups we were presenting with printed-out emojis what do we think about various aspects of our EVS project. After lunch we went to the city centre. We had very rare occasion to see the “Fasching” Parade. It was very inspiring to see all those people in the costumes, in temperature slightly above zero, having fun. After that we had time to explore the city. I saw the City Hall (Rathaus), the Old Main Bridge (Alter Mainbrücke) and the Marienberg Fortress (Festung Marienberg). After all the sightseeing we moved to the pub “Standard” where we had your dinner and where I met other volunteer who was on my first seminar and who lives in Würzburg. It was very nice to see her again.
The next day was a bit special day because it was Valentine’s Day. We started after breakfast with some more energizers. Then a Syrian refugee came to give us some exercises about communication and shared his experience that he collected since he arrived in Germany two years ago. It was interesting to see some problems from a different perspective. After the lunch came Marta from the German National Agency to talk about some questions and issues that we might still have. During dinner there was a huge discussion about football because right after the dinner there was a football match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. (I heard this information like million times during dinner :D)
On Thursday we had sessions about the right-wing populism in Europe and how to decode their messages. Very closely related to that was a topic of racism which follow right after lunch break. Afterwards we had dinner. That night it was also our fare-well party where we danced together, continued having discussions and played mini-games.
Friday was our last day of this second and last seminar. Before we had our last lunch we had small session about how to write our YouthPass that everyone of us receives at the end of our projects. Followed by small tips that might help us enjoy the rest of our stay here in Germany. After that it was only time to say Goodbye and return back to Erfurt.
I met some very interesting new people from all corners of Germany. Even though it was short, we had a lot of fun together. I also met with some old friends which made this seminar even better. I can only recommend.