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FAWCO YOUTH 2018 – Youth Participant Essay

In June 2018, the AWC Berlin hosted 12 youths from FAWCO clubs around the world. They represent 11 cultures and speak 9 languages. The goals of the week were a) introduction to volunteerism, b) awareness of social issues, c) interaction with third culture teens, and d) experiencing Berlin culture. This was the final essay from one of the teens. “Ben and Tom and Christine,” in the essay are Berliners the writer interacted with during the program.

Essay by Anna Sheehan

For me, Berlin has always been the place where I feel truly at home and truly myself. The city has a way of bringing out the best in me, and leaving it is one of the hardest things I have to do. I am so thankful that I was able to take part in such an inspiring program as the FAWCO Youth Program; and the experiences I got from it are ones I will hold on to forever. The people, the places, the culture, the impact—all of these contribute to the memories I will remember and the stories I will tell of this moving week abroad.

This trip has taught me so much about the city, about the social issues, about myself. Berlin continues to amaze me, always changing, bending and contorting to conform to the times, but that is what allows for amazing things to happen. It allows for diversity, integration, acceptance, and individualism. These qualities are the reasons why it is truly the best city in the world. The Berliners may come off rough and sharp, but once you get pasts those uneven edges you meet people like Ben and Tom and Christine who are beautiful examples of what the city has to offer. With such kind, humorous, open minded individuals how could someone not find their place?

Berlin may be large, but this trip has shown me how many opportunities there are that connect so many different people making everything seem just a bit more manageable. While Berlin’s population is growing significantly, due to steady immigration from the Middle East, Berlin’s sense of community grows proportionally stronger with an abundance of people and organizations reaching out and making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. I got to have hands on experience with this movement at the Berlin Stadtmission, the Ronald McDonald House, a Refugee Integration Center (Ulme35), with Serve the City, and much more. These opportunities gave me the chance to look into what’s happening right now, right in front of our nose, to people just like you and I. It also showed me that while immigration is such a huge issue, for most it’s still a myth because it hasn’t affected them directly.

This trip has allowed these issues to touch me on a personal level, and not just by word of mouth. I saw what was happening on the streets, in hospitals, in refugee communities and it only empowered me more to provide them with my services. The city is huge and needs help, and the fact that I got to spend a week of my time giving back to the community I love makes me feel so happy and encourages me to further my volunteer and awareness work in my own community and across the globe.

This trip has inspired me to do more because I am fortunate enough to have the ability to do so. I want to thank the FAWCO Youth program for helping me find what makes me passionate and makes me strive to be better, not just for myself, but in hopes that one day I can do better for this world.

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