Being a German volunteer in a Crous
Joline Heller: « I felt useful for the life of the students«
As soon as she got her baccalaureate, Joline Heller, 19, signed up in September 2019, as a volunteer at Crous and the University of Caen. Born and raised in Detmold, in North Rhine-Westphalia, she wanted to have a gap year before starting her studies. And she doesn’t regret anything… on the opposite! Testimony
I didn’t really know what a Crous was when I chose to go to Caen. But I wanted to commit myself to « common well-being ». My mission is divided into two days in the leisure and animation department of Crous of Normandy and three days in the cultural mediation office of the Carré international of the University of Caen, which aims to welcome international students. At first, I thought it might be difficult to be younger than the students but it was not the case: My workshops, for example on painting, were appreciated by the students. When you have something to offer, it doesn’t matter the age!
What struck me most was the organization of the Franco-German celebration. Over two days, I offered a cultural evening on French and German culture and a workshop on German cooking with a colleague, a former cook, in a Crous residence. Together with the participants, we prepared a typical dish from my region, the Pickert: these are potatoes pancakes that can be eaten either sweet or savory.
On 22 January, the day of Franco-German friendship, in the entertainment area of Crous, we also prepared a small German dinner made of sandwiches with cheese, cold meats, what we call « Abendbrot ». Then, with a dozen students, especially resident scholars, there followed a discussion on the ten largest German cities with a quiz and a map of Germany. The feedback was positive and everyone enjoyed the break in their studies and entertainment.
Personally, it taught me a lot about organizing projects and events with the help of my colleagues. By taking on more responsibility, I gained self-confidence and organizational skills.
What did I find out about Normandy? Before, I did not know Caen, and the surrounding cities. After having had the chance to travel a bit, I really like this region and its pretty landscapes. When it comes to food, I especially love Norman sandwiches, with apples and camembert. In addition, I really appreciated the friendly atmosphere between students. Housed in a Crous residence, I did not encounter any material problems.
Next year, when I start my studies, I will go more easily to international students. I understood what it was like to be a foreigner and the adjustment problems it can cause. I will give everything to facilitate their integration. It would be nice to see structures like the Carré international of Caen, which supports and integrates foreign students, in a German university.
In short, if I had to do it again, I would not hesitate. However, more sharing of experiences between old and new volunteers should be encouraged, using social media for example. Because this volunteer experience is worthwhile, not only linguistically, but also culturally and personally. I felt useful for the life of the students.
To be volunteer, follow the link : https://volontariat.ofaj.org/fr/devenir-volontaire/