“The first few weeks were a great cultural challenge. Only little can be planned, because many things can always change quickly.”
Laura is in Cape Town as a weltwärts volunteer for one year. She supports the organisation PLAY HANDBALL in organisational tasks and works at three different primary schools in the afternoon. In the following interview she talks about her experiences after the first two months:
PLAY HANDBALL: Why is handball important for you and what did it gave/ gives you?
Laura: Handball is important for me, because here in South Africa it is an unknown sport, with which you can inspire more children for sport.
PLAY HANDBALL: How did you heard about PLAY HANDBALL ZA?
Laura: I was looking for a weltwärts volunteer service and I found it over the organization Jugend im Ausland.
PLAY HANDBALL: Why did you decided to become a Handball Volunteer in South Africa?
Laura: After finishing my teacher studies as a sports and physics teacher, I wanted to apply my collected knowledge in another context and expand it through new experiences in a south African country. Because I am very enthusiastic about sports, I have decided for PLAY HANDBALL.
PLAY HANDBALL: How long have you been now a handball volunteer in South Africa?
Laura: Since the 2nd September.
PLAY HANDBALL: Tell us something about your volunteer experience so far?
Laura: In Germany I was already a teacher and I make the experience that the children here are not used to play simple sport games. So in the first time I need lots of time to explain basically rules for games.
PLAY HANDBALL: What was the most memorable experience?
Laura: My most memorable experience is not a nice experience and it doesn’t belong to PLAY HANDBALL. But it was the biggest experience that I ever had in my life. My host father died by a car accident and the way of dealing with it is completely different than in Germany. Between 15 and 50 friends stay a whole week day and night in the house and support the rest of the family. They sing songs, cooked together, cleaned the house and did a church service every evening. I was very impressed of the support.
PLAY HANDBALL: What was the greatest challenge until now?
Laura: Something more to relax and give some processes more time. Everyday school life consists of many short-term changes, so that not everything always goes according to plan.
PLAY HANDBALL: How do you experience the handball coaching at school/ community?
Laura: I make the experience that the kids don’t know any rules about how to behave in PE. So in my first lesson I make clearly what I expect from the children. It works and they have fun.
PLAY HANDBALL: Do you think your work has an Impact?
Laura: Temporarily my work has an impact. The children enjoy getting to know a new sport and being active. Since the teachers in the schools are not necessarily interested in my work, I don’t know if there will be a long-term effect when I am away again.
PLAY HANDBALL: How is the life with a local South African host family?
Laura: My host family comes from Zimbabwe. I am interested in her culture and her different meals. I like her local food called Pap very much. It is very easy to stay with them, but sometimes I wish me a bit more privacy in the house.
PLAY HANDBALL: Any other comments or sentiments you’d like to share
Laura: I can only recommend a one-year voluntary Service.