For many years Herbie e.V. and the volunteers they have placed, support the Leipzig International School and the Leipzig International Kindergarten. In return the volunteers receive experience, knowledge, recognition and some pocket money. Every year, seven young people join our community to work hand in hand with professionals. Three of those seven volunteers are selected and mentored by the volunteer Coordinator in Hort while the others are based in the LIS Kindergarten.
The framework for volunteering at LIS and our Kindergarten is given by Germany’s Social Volunteering Year (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr – FSJ). The FSJ is a practice-oriented offer for young people to gain first-hand experience in one particular social work related field as well as an opportunity to grow on a personal level. Often young people decide to do a FSJ to bridge the time before they study or get gain some insight of a possible career path.
LIS offers two different positions. Two volunteers join the primary department. This means that, in addition to working at Hort, they support a primary grade or our GAL (German as additional language) department directly in class. The third volunteer works in Hort as well, but in addition he or she joins our secondary school GAL department. Each volunteer is directly supported and supervised by three professionals; an LIS educator as lead and coordinator, a designated teacher with whom the volunteer works closely and a Seminar Leader provided by Herbie e.V. who, amongst other tasks, organises trainings, workshops and seminars for the volunteers. This way they get insight into two professions: educator and teacher.
LIS prides itself on having a welcoming community. This also reflects in our work with the volunteers. They are not assistants to the professionals. They are not here to make coffee and copy documents. LIS allows them to grow gradually and, with the help of constant supervision and feedback, to take on more responsibilities over time. Our volunteers enjoy the same rights, trust and openness as all other team members.
Why did you decide to do a FSJ?
Maria (at LIS since September 2020): “I’m thinking about becoming a primary school teacher, but I’m not a 100% sure about it. So after this kind of work experience, where I spend a whole year in school, hopefully I will know better.”
Why did you decide to join the LIS as a volunteer?
Jonas (at LIS since September 2020): “After finishing my A-levels in the UK, I decided I would like to spend a year in Germany. After doing some research on the voluntary programs available in Leipzig, LIS stood out for me. I had a job working in an After-school club in the UK and had German and English language skills. I had a very positive impression after my interview and thought I would fit in well. It has been a very good decision, and so far, I have loved volunteering at LIS.”
In your experience, meeting many other volunteers through Herbie e.V., what is the difference between the LIS and other places, that run volunteer programmes?
Fabian (at LIS since September 2019): “Every volunteer faces different challenges. Therefore, everyone is supported differently. The LIS has a high standard compared to the other places. However, sometimes you are only suitable for a certain job. Some might be good with children and others with the elderly. In addition to that, the volunteer experience can only be enjoyed if colleagues and the general work atmosphere have a certain standard.”
What have you learnt or think you will learn whilst volunteering at LIS?
Fabian: “I have learned a lot about myself and my limits. For the very first time I had to take responsibility for someone or something. I could even say that I really grew up.”
Did the LIS meet your expectations since you started as a volunteer?
Maria: “I am really impressed with how much responsibility and trust is already set in me. The LIS has a really nice educator-in-class system and I am a full part of that. I have my own timetable and I’m not just tagging along with somebody, but work as an individual even though there is always someone I can talk to, and there is also lots of reflection within the Hort team.”
Any words for future volunteers?
Jonas: “I can only recommend that you apply to become a volunteer at LIS. The team is unrivalled, and the school will supply you with experience and memories that last a lifetime. It is especially good if you are looking for a career working with children. Due to the diverse nature of the school. You will truly be able to interact with every type of personality.”
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