Florian is a 19-year-old German who is currently doing a long-term (1 year) volunteering service in a kindergarten close to Helsinki, Finland. In this interview we speak about his reasons to do a long-term volunteering service abroad, his experiences and advice for other people interested in spending a gap year volunteering in another country.
Already during High school Florian has spent 10 months in Finland. The country seems to have grown on him a lot, because after graduating, he decided to go back there. Now he is spending a gap year there doing an “IJFD” volunteering service with the German red cross in a kindergarten close to Helsinki. “IJFD” stands for the German words “Internationaler Jugendfreiwilligendienst”. It describes a volunteering abroad program supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. This program is aimed at young people living in Germany and provides them among other things with financial support. Currently it is Florian’s 5th month of the overall 12 months that his service lasts.
The reasons that led Florian to start a volunteering service abroad are diverse. He for instance reports not to have known what he wanted to study after school and use some time to plan his future. Furthermore, he realised that spending time abroad would help him to learn a new language and volunteering would allow him to really become a part of the host country´s culture as well as help its people and society.
“The general idea of these volunteering years is amazing, because you can […] get so many new experiences with so many new people […] in subjects you never have done anything in before.”
answers Florian when asked if he would recommend doing a similar service to other interested people. However, he emphasizes the importance of finding a trustworthy organisation that supports the volunteers in their tasks and with any challenges that may occur during the volunteer´s stay. Additionally he advises to only accept volunteering opportunities that fit your personal interests and skills.
Listen to our previous Podcasts if you want to hear more about volunteering!