Henrike, new German volunteer in CED

henrikeHenrike Benjes is the fourth volunteer, which for a one year will be engaged in organization Center for Education and Development CED. It is sent by the organization Friedenskreis Halle (Germany), which is a partner organization of the CED, and comes from the city of Bremen, Germany. Her previous experience is participation and leadership, groups and workshops with children camps and schools in Germany, as well as experience for mediation, conflict resolution among young people in schools. This cooperation with Germany began in 2011, and is aimed exchanging positive experiences of German youth and their contribution to the organization and the wider society in Macedonia.

How you decided to come to Macedonia and why you chose CED?

"I just finished school and decided that I did not want to go to university directly but instead do a voluntary service.  Through internet research I found the Friedenskreis Halle, my sending organisation, and the CED. I liked what I heard about the projects the CED organizes and thought that their topics were very interesting. One of my reasons for a voluntary service was that I get to live in a completely different environment for a year. A different environment does not neccessarly mean the other end of the world- I wanted to get to know another part of my continent. Before I came here I didn't really know anything about Macedonia and the Balkan region and I am excited to get to know the people and their daily life".

How you plan to deal with the different cultures?

"I will try to be open,respectful and not judgemental. I might not understand everything, but will try my best to learn a lot about people's daily life and their opinions, also about the differences and similarities they see between the cultures".

What is your general impression for these few days?

"In the beginning I was a bit overwhelmed because so much was new and different. In the first two weeks I had a language course together with other german volunteers. Since we also visited many places in the region, it felt a bit like vacation but now I am looking forward to a work routine. I am living with a very nice host family and I like Tearce, although I think that such a small village might not actually need quite so many cafes. Apart from the litter the landscape is beautiful and I really enjoy Tetovo's lively atmosphere".

How you will contribute in CEDs activities?

"First I want to get to know the CED and its members better and therefore I'll assist workshops and projects already planned. But I also have started to think about projects I might initiate, like a conflict-solving workshop or activities dealing with ecology".

What is your expectation from the volunteering?

"I'd like to get an impression of how NGOs work. Of course they don't all function in the same way, but since the CED cooperates with other organisations and I've already met many other volunteers I think I'll get a good overview. Also I want to learn more about children and youth work, gain independency and confidence. I hope to participate in something useful and that in the end my year with the CED will have been successful".

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Photo taken during activity in Tetovo