Hello, my name is Jakov. I come from Berlin. That is the place I was born and have spent most time of my life. I have as well lived in Vilnius, Lithuania (also very nice places, by the way). I finished school this summer and like many (already former) students in Germany, I didn`t know what to do after that. So it is quite usual that you have a gap year after school. Some people use that year to find a place to work and earn some money; others go on an apprenticeship, travel or become socially active during a so called “social year” in Germany. And then there are the ones who go on a volunteership abroad. And well, I am one of them.

At this point the question might come up (or not) – Why exactly Ukraine? As Ukraine is not known to be one of the more present countries in international media (depends on political situation, reminder: so called ”Ukrainagate” in Oct. 2019) and therefore doesn`t get too much attention of and in society.

For me everything began with the Euromaidan in Kyiv in 2014. At that time I was a boy not knowing much about politics or the country I was going to for a few days on winter holidays. Yes, I had the luck to visit the Euromaidan. And despite the fact I didn’t really know what was going on, everything I saw impressed me. It impressed me so much I got interested in Ukraine, its history, culture, language, music… And the more I discovered for myself, the more I fell in love with the country.

Unfortunately it is not possible to obtain a realistic and more or less objective picture of the life in Ukraine while living in Germany. And even though I came to Ukraine quite a few times and visited different cities, to some of which I even began to get used to within a few days, I always remained a tourist. In fact, after my visit I always was the same tourist with the same perspective of a tourist on everything. I always remained a stranger, even though I didn’t always feel like one. And that makes everything quite strange: In Germany I am that slav guy who likes to read and talk in Russian and Ukrainian, who drinks kvas, knows everything about Eastern Europe. Here, in Ukraine, on the other hand, I am that German, who talks German and English and knows much about the EU and Western Europe. And that is how I see myself too, probably. But that remains a topic for another story.

The volunteership gives me the possibility to understand the real life in Ukraine, and, I hope, will give me the chance to feel myself as close to a local as possible. I will also be able to see even more of the country and work on myself as a person and my personal qualities, things I am very happy about.

I hope to find a feeling for the city and the people here quickly, so we could think of some fun things to do and implement here together. And of course I will be happy to help in questions related with English and German languages.
About the city I can say that it surprised me positively. It is not as grey as I expected. But maybe the reason for that is that is only the beginning of October, there are still leaves on the trees, it is warm outside and the sun shines. And this is only my third day here (Seems to be the influence from the guys of the English-speaking-club already).

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By jakov

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European Solidarity Corps    Eastern Europe & Caucasus Resource Centre    Громадські ініціативи України