Volunteering Stories: My personal quarantine in Romania – by Janek

My name is Janek, I’m from Germany and today I will tell you a little something about my past few weeks in Romania. I’ve arrived here in the beginning of March for a volunteering project called DO IT!. We, that includes three other volunteers from France and Austria, were supposed to teach teenagers in high school, unfortunately the current epidemic came right on point to keep us from actually starting to teach.

For this reason, things are going a bit of a different direction now, but I enjoy it nevertheless. This is my first time volunteering in a long-term project, although it isn’t my first time in Romania as I have been coming here a lot with my grandparents when I was little. When I arrived here five weeks ago, it was still a little bit of a cultural shock, although I’m used to traveling also through not so wealthy countries, some things here shook me a little on the inside. I don’t think I’ve been asked for money or anything else ever as much as in the past four weeks here. But I got used to things by now and I’m really enjoying my time here, despite all the madness with the virus and us not being able to go outside properly. For me personally, coming here was definitely the right decision, I’ve been traveling through Europe for the past year and had a bit of a rough time, so coming to Romania to settle down for a while, focusing on bettering myself and doing the things I enjoy, seemed like a good opportunity to gather some experience before I will start my plan to become an actual English teacher!

But until then, I will enjoy my time here with international company, and strangers who slowly become friends. This is what everything is about, making connections and sharing experiences with people you like being around, and this is not exception. From the perspective of not being able to teach in high schools, I think that everyone makes the best out of this current situation, from our project leaders to ourselves and the local community and inhabitants. Recently we started teaching German and English to people who are interested via online lessons, and even though I’m not super passionate about this, I know it helps me develop myself and I still enjoy teaching, may it be only through a laptop. Aside from that I spend my free time with staying inside, doing some small activities for the project here and there, reading, cooking, stretching, napping, playing games and so on and so forth, the possibilities are limitless!

In general, I also go outside for my weekly meeting with the other volunteers on Monday, to go to the fresh market or to the store or to keep myself from becoming too deprived of sunlight. I’m looking forward to seeing this town in summer, sitting in the square, watching people, eating ice cream or just wandering around the streets. I want to climb the hills nearby and jump into cold lakes and breathe some fresh air! Unfortunately, it could be another few weeks until the grasp of the virus weakens and people are finally allowed to return back to their normal lives. To me this is good, because me being here in Romania is already special and awesome, even if there’s not so much to do, so when things are finally about to start, I will enjoy it even more! Volunteering has been on my mind for a while now and I don’t regret the decision.

Thank you to everyone who makes these kind of things possible for us young people!

The volunteer is hosted by Team for Youth Association in the DOIT! project, on a 4 months Solidarity Corps project in Baia Mare. The content of this testimonial does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. The responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article rests entirely with the author.