Two young women from the district have left their usual home for four months and are going to West Africa for an internship.
In the interview they talk about their experiences in Gambia, their work at the school and what they miss most since their return to Germany.
Going abroad after graduating from high school, that is the plan of many school graduates in Germany. Two young women from the district of Amberg-Sulzbach have dared a special adventure and completed a social internship in the West African Gambia for four months. This was made possible by the Amberg-based association Socialis for The Gambia, which supports the educational work in the small African country by financing a pre-school and primary school as well as a training centre. In an interview, Iris (18) and Julia (19) talk about their experiences in Gambia, their work at the school and what they miss most since their return to Germany
How did it come about that you decided to do an internship in Gambia?
Julia: I always wanted to go abroad for a longer time, because you can get to know a country very differently when you live there than when you are only there as a tourist for a few weeks. After my high school diploma I decided to put this into practice.
Iris: I also wanted to try something new and improve my English, but at the same time I wanted to make use of something from my surroundings. And so I went to Gambia through the Amberg-based association Socialis for the Gambia.
What was your first impression when you arrived?
Iris: Ohjemine, where have I landed here! [laughs] It was a little bit poorer than expected.
Julia: I can remember exactly how we were picked up from the airport and suddenly a cow ran in front of the car and we had to stop abruptly. Besides, it was unbelievably hot and there was sand and garbage everywhere. But from the very beginning I was especially fascinated by the women in their colourful dresses, carrying their children on their backs and balancing a fruit bowl on their heads at the same time.
How was your daily routine?
Julia: During the week we took our bikes in the morning and on the way to school we took our breakfast in the shop next door. Then from 8 to half past 4 we were at the school and have often passed by friends on the way back. Then we had to rest, drink tea and play a round of Yahtzee. Later we often went shopping at the market and in the evening we cooked together and sat together with friends on the terrace. On weekends there was always something to do, for example a trip to the beach, an invitation to a wedding or we explored the country as tourists.
What were your duties at school?
Iris: Mainly realising creative ideas with the children, be it handicrafts or photography. And otherwise taking care of the reading lessons and first aid, solving minor technical problems on the computers and designing posters for the classrooms.
Julia: And sometimes we were given special tasks, such as a photography project, or to carry out an art project on climate change.
Which day in particular did you remember?
Iris: There are too many to choose a particular one.
Julia: Our trip to Janjanbureh, in the poorer interior of Gambia. There we got to know the typical Gambian life and found out that our accommodation provided by the organisation was nevertheless a lot more western than we thought. For example, we had fixed toilets there, which is by far not standard in Gambia.
What fascinated you most?
Julia: The smile of the children. The sweet shining white teeth and their contentment, although they hardly have anything. There was really almost no day when I saw a child crying.
Iris: And that the Gambians don’t constantly burn their fingers when they eat, when they shape the rice into little balls.
Would you recommend the internship to others and if so, why?
Iris: Definitely, especially because you will meet some really nice people there, but also to experience a completely different lifestyle, some of which you can take home with you. And you will see your life there much more relaxed, there is just a super relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Julia: You also learn an incredible amount for yourself, including independence and openness. At the same time you can support people in a country that is still far away from our level of development.
What do you take with you from your time in Gambia?
Julia: I realized that we should appreciate what we have here in Germany much more and how important it is to take time for the things and people that are close to your heart. Besides, I learned through the Gambian way of life to see life more relaxed and to make myself less pressure and stress.
Iris: A lot, but mostly probably to realize that you don’t need a thousand of the same things and you can be happy with little. And far too many Wonjo flowers to enjoy the traditional drink at home.
What do you miss the most?
Julia: The people with whom we have made such incredible friendships.
Iris: The sun and my new friends
If you are interested in an internship in Gambia or if you would like to support the association you can find all information on the homepage www.socialis-for-the-gambia.de or on Facebook. Questions can be asked at email@example.com or under 09621/31754.