Jasmin Rieg, 2014
My name is Jasmin. I am 26 years old and live in Stuttgart, Germany. I studied Education and Management and am about to start working as a highschool teacher. My first Sprout trip was in 2014. I took a gap year after my Bachelor studies, and wanted to go abroad for a while. Volunteering while traveling seemed like a wonderful option to me because of the potential to make friends from all over the world.
I found Sprout via the German partner organization “ijgd“. At first I was skeptical if it would really be the right project for me, because I did not have any experience working with people with disabilites. However, when I read about other volunteers‘ experiences and saw how excited they all were about Sprout, I decided to apply. And I never regretted it!
I remember very well meeting my first group in the SOHO conference room of the hostel. They were all so excited and treated us leaders as if we were their friends already. They asked a lot of questions about the trip and about us. There was no fear and no judgement; just interest, curiosity, and the desire to make new friends. In general, that is the most important thing Sprout participants taught me: Taking people as they are, with all their specific characteristics and traits. Not judging them right away but instead listening to their story first and loving and treating them as fellow humans. I was overwhelmed by this, and I think it is something that will also help me in my future job when I teach highschool kids.
To be honest, my first trip was also exhausting. I was afraid to make mistakes with the medication and I was not sure how strict to be with participants. However, I had great coleaders who were experienced, and during that first week I learned so much from them. After a short period of time I got used to the routines and I started enjoying the activities more. It was great to see how much the participants enjoyed their time with us and it was amazing how well we got to know each other in only one week.
Personally, I can say that my experience at Sprout helped me grow as an individual and learn more about myself and my abilities. I improved skills such as patience and flexibility and learned how to encourage people to try new things. On Sprout trips, you take things as they come and make the best out of it all. When I returned to Sprout to volunteer again in 2016, I realized that I was much more relaxed the second time around and I enjoyed the trips even more. The main reason why I came back was the people. It is so much fun working together with international volunteers and it was great to see the participants again. Most of them remembered me and it was wonderful to see that they are still doing well.
If somebody asked me why they should come volunteer with Sprout, I would say the main reason is that the experience will help you view life in a more satisfying and fulfilling way. For the participants, it does not matter what you have done before you meet them or what you plan on doing afterwards. It does not matter how much money you have made so far or how much money you plan on making in the future. It is not important if you consider yourself a successful person or if you are maybe in a phase of life where you are struggling.
What counts on a Sprout trip is that you see the needs of other people, that you are caring and supportive, that you are tolerant and comprehensive. And that you have fun! You are a poor dancer? It does not matter as long as you enjoy yourself when you are dancing with them to their favorite music. You think you will make a complete fool out of yourself doing Karaoke?! Yes, you probably will, but to the participants you will be the hero of the night if you do it.
Once you step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to simply enjoy the activities, you will be rewarded with a very pure and innocent form of friendship and gratefulness. For me, this experience was completely new and I would not want to miss it for the world.