Our Be The Best grant recipient, Immy, blogs back her latest learnings from her placement in Germany.
The month started out with an ambitious call out from Vostel, they needed 50 volunteers a day for the 10 day Kenako Afrika Festival.
Ke-nako means “the time has come” for Africa and the festival aims to bring cultures together in a positive light. The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Muller, sponsored the event and with the Global Learning Project they set up workshops and talks, each by leading international politicians, personalities, activists and individuals. Alongside this there were stunning performances by drummers, musicians and dancers on the main stage.
While on-site there was a market place where visitors to Alexandraplatz and Berlin could buy colourful handmade art, clothing, cosmetics and of course delicious food. I was tasked with running the family corner. I introduced two days of free activities that I sourced, paid for and organised. It was interesting at first as no one would believe that my creative corner was free. But once word got out not only did visitors come along, but also all the kids helping out on other stalls and their parents dropped by. A number of parents tried to pay me 10 euros as they said it is a custom to pay the artist, I declined their kind offer of donations but found I quite enjoyed being considered an artist in Berlin!
It was my last couple of visits to the Charity After School Hustle in June, as schools and projects close for the summer from 5th July. I was very lucky to get places on two Saturday Workshops. The first was with a New York actor, Adam Ludwig, who was helping us to develop our communication and presentation skills, acting out scenarios and getting feedback on how to improve our delivery. I enjoyed finding out ways to use my voice to portray the same line with different emphasis or emotion.
The second visit was with ASH Founder, Pewel Mordel, who ran a web design day. This gave me a fantastic insight into how websites are designed, what colour choices mean and how the layout affects how the message or information is received by the user. This knowledge is not only good for designing websites; I can use it to make posters, presentations and marketing material. I can see this information being a great resource for my current and future promotion of my voluntary, charitable events and projects.
I attend a lot of Meet Up Groups organised and mainly run for free by motivated people living here in Berlin. They have been a wonderful source of finding events to go to as well as a way of meeting up with and making new friends. I felt that I had been given so much over the past year that I would like to give something back. One of my groups is a Book Swap Club which promoted a charitable event, swapping clothes whilst raising funds for local and refugee children on low incomes and they said volunteers were needed plus food. So I baked chocolate brownies, a chocolate cake, a lemon drizzle cake plus a vegetable pasta salad. I also took a load of my clothes, coats, books, DVD’s etc. Arriving early, I got help to empty my cases and within half an hour everything had gone! Others brought food to share and I managed the café where everything was free and again it all got devoured within a few hours, leaving us with just drinks for the last hour. All in all this event was a great success. I could not resist taking a couple of nice pieces of clothing for myself but had to fight against taking too much as the whole idea was to make my cases lighter for when I travel home in August.
Abbie my friend from school popped over to Berlin, it was like being a tourist again for me escaping work/volunteering and taking her to all the sights East Side Gallery, Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall Memorial to name a few. She came along and taught English to refugees at Refugio, hung out with me at one of my Board Game Clubs at a local bar, plus we went to a friend’s English Comedy Club where for some unknown reason we ended up in the corner with all the Irish blokes. They were a great bunch who taught Abbie and I the art of gentle heckling.
A friend, Sam, set up a Studio Ghibli film night at her flat for 20 of us. We saw Porco Rosso and My Neighbours the Yamadas. They were both quite different from each other, with Yamadas unique art style and Porcos more historical aspect. It was really nice getting to watch them in a relaxed environment, with others who did not mind my random comments as they made quite a few of their own too! An event I hosted through Meet Up was with Victor and Imad, where we joined lots of other Cosplay enthusiasts for a Costume Night. This is like a fancy dress party or World Book Day, where you choose a character you admire from Anima/Manga/Films/Books etc. design and wear an outfit, go listen to music/DJ’s and admire each others creations. We got to make items of jewellery, chatted and could try snacks from different cultures. As the night darkened we had an outdoor bonfire to roast marshmallows, had snow fights (yes that’s right they froze snowballs). It was a great event!
TOP TIPS FOR BERLIN
1/ Basic but useful site on what’s on in Berlin for free https://www.berlin.de/kultur-und-tickets/gratis/
2/ Best bargain food M-F (check opening times and holidays) at the University’s Student Cafes-Skyline is a favourite (find under Technische Uni) https://www.stw.berlin/en/dining-facilities.html
Also the Music College opposite Museum Island has tasty cheap food and why not see a free concert whilst there https://www.hfm-berlin.de/en/events/events-calendar/
3/ I like Tripsavy for info on what to do here in Berlin as well as worldwide https://www.tripsavvy.com/berlin-things-to-do-4138976
4/ Monday is quiet in Berlin so the Comedy Boat is free for Monday night comedy in English http://comedyinenglish.de/event/laughing-spree-comedy-boat-meets-spree/