Damaris Diener, 2015
I’m Damaris from Mannheim, a city near Frankfurt, in Germany.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communication and wanted to use my break from studying between Bachelor’s and Master’s degree to do something useful and meaningful in the social field.
I’ve never worked with people with disabilities but I love adventures and worked in other social fields before, so Sprout seemed perfect to me. I found the Sprout Vacation programme through IJGD, a German NGO which supports young people in finding international volunteering opportunities.
I applied at the last minute so within two weeks I decided to go to New York as a volunteer for two months, booked my flight and packed my suitcase. And the adventure could start. And what can I say? It was one of the best experiences of my life so far. I was a leader on five vacation trips and many day trips and enjoyed every single one of them. One of my first trips was a week trip to Portland, Maine. I had two great Co-Leaders from America and Turkey and we had a very lovely group. One of the participants brought Veggie-Chips from home to share them as a snack with everyone. Another participant was always very caring and helped other participants down the stairs by holding their hands.
On that trip I really got to know America: we celebrated the 4th of July all together with little American flags and fireworks! We also made a boat trip to Mohegan Island and had a beautiful picnic which all of the participants enjoyed very much. Another trip I did was to Penn Dutch where we could taste the famous Shoofly Pie, eat home-cooked Amish food and did a buggy ride everyone was very excited about.
But for me it didn’t matter where I went on trips, for me it mattered with who: With all the lovely and amazing people. Everyone was so special and one of a kind. The Sprout participants taught me to value the little things in life and appreciate the moment. Their joy and happiness is so sincere and it made me sooo unbelievably happy to see that they are having a great time with Sprout. The work was so rewarding and all of my co leaders from all over the world were so nice and fun that it didn’t feel like work.
That’s why I am planning to come back to Sprout, to collect more of those incomparable and valuable memories.