My voluntary service at PIP was a total coincidence: I was looking for an internship in an educational or social setting in London. The internship is a mandatory part of my bachelor’s degree to become a teacher for German and English, the regulations are very loose and the main goal is to gain work experience in an English-speaking country. The German YMCA referred my application to PiP and luckily I was accepted.
Before my time at PiP I had hardly ever encountered anyone with learning disabilities, let alone worked with them. I did not know what to expect but had a very open mind. Of course, I was also a little nervous on my first day.
From the very first moment that I arrived everyone, students and staff, went out of their way to help me, answer my questions and make me feel welcome. This made it easy for me to adjust to the new situation and soon I felt like part of the PiP family.
My tasks included assisting students during their classes and overall helping out with whatever was going on. I loved seeing how students were eager to learn new things or practice skills that they could use in their every-day life. From a professional point of view it was also very interesting to see what techniques and methods the staff members used in various situations. I especially admired their never-ending patience and overall positive approach.
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A special highlight of my voluntary service was the leisure program, after four weeks of regular classes all students were very excited to go on trips to explore London and do leisure activities. Apart from a trip to the zoo, bowling and many others activities that we enjoyed together, I was able to organise a German culture morning teaching the students more about my home country and my mother tongue. One of the most memorable moments occurred at the end of the morning when one of the students thanked me in German because she remembered the word from the very beginning of the session.
All in all I can say that I met very friendly and open-minded people at PIP and I can only recommend volunteering there. I would always go back and do it again.