Volunteering Can Be a Wonderful Opportunity to Regularly Speak and Improve Your German

It is time to finally present you one of the key people behind SIVO Guide for Volunteering in Luzern – Ella Stuart, a kiwi who found her new home in Lucerne.

How did you become part of the team which created SIVO Guide for Volunteering in Luzern?
A friend of mine had previously volunteered for SIVO spending time with underage refugees in Lucerne and recommended the organisation to me. I was on the cusp of completing my Masters degree at the University of Lucerne at the time and had my eye open for engagement opportunities in local initiatives, while also on the hunt for my first post-uni job. I got in touch with Evelin Bermudez, founder of SIVO, and the ball got rolling very quickly. She told me about this volunteering guide she had wanted to create for a long time and that she was looking for support in its production. Evelin’s incredible energy and conviction that such a guide was needed in Lucerne inspired me to join the task-force straight-away.

What was your job?
Together with Michaela, another SIVO volunteer, my role was to collect information on non-profit organisations, neighbourhood associations and expat and foreigner forums operating in the region and compile it into an easy-to-read list for future volunteers to easily see what opportunities there are, what projects are running and who to contact in order to get involved. This required a certain amount of time surfing the web in Café Ceasar or Bourbaki with Evelin and Michaela and contacting the various associations we wished to include to confirm what projects they have and where they need volunteer support. Also, once an English teacher, I played a role in proof-reading the entire guide prior to its publication.

What did you like working on the Guide?
This experience was very enriching in regards to opening my eyes to the vast number of non-profit organisations operating in Lucerne. It was interesting to note that many associations run very similar initiatives, showing that there is certainly a need for more collaboration or at least more coordination between these organisations, so that they might increase their reach and impact together. Furthermore, reaching out to these associations even led me to another volunteer job with WasserfürWasser (WfW), translating their lucernewater.ch website into English. Finally, I really enjoyed the regular brainstorming sessions with Evelin and Michaela co-working in local cafés.

What challenges did you face?
As a non-native German speaker, translating some of the material into English for the guide was obviously a challenge. So much information online is exclusively in German, which poses a challenge to those who would like to get engaged in the community but are still learning German. I think it is great that this guide provides key information on volunteering in Lucerne to those still getting to grips with the language. However, as mentioned in the guide itself, volunteering can be a wonderful opportunity to regularly speak and improve your German – it has certainly been the case for me!

How did this experience help you?
I now have a better overview of the non-profit landscape of Lucerne and German-speaking Switzerland. This has proven to be incredibily helpful for my current position at SINGA Switzerland, a non-profit organisation in Zurich. It is advantageous knowing what other organisations are out there, what they stand for and if potential partnerships between them and SINGA could be fruitful, for example. On a personal note, it was a real pleasure getting to know the wonderful people behind SIVO, with whom I share many values and good memories.

Comments are closed.