Student Reflections

Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg [Bard in Berlin, Spring 2016]

"The experience of going to these shelters has been very informative. I have the opportunity to learn about the actual experiences behind all of the statistics that are displayed in the news. I have learned about the complexities of the visa process and the many bureaucratic challenges that people face. The opportunity to actually build relationships with people arriving in Berlin makes me constantly aware of what is going on in the world." 

Read the entire interview: Volunteering in Berlin: Interview with Jordana

Nancy Stanley [BA 2019]

"Interacting with individuals who donít share a common language with you is something intensely interesting, most of the times humorous, but as a whole, always heartwarming. I created paper airplanes with four kids who had been quite shy of me ten minutes prior. After I showed them the technique to whip out the aircrafts, they had all the fun you can expect any child seeks to have. It is definitely possible to still make that connection. We bonded over our learning German (this is also due to myself being at the same level of German as small children). A girl, my colleague and I met, is known for having picked up a language from every country she has stayed in thus far. The number of languages she is fluent in is three or four now, the girl being 8 year old. Itís very impressive and totally inspiring".

Farah Badr [BA 2019]

"As an Arabic speaker, I felt that I could be of use joining the initiative between a refugee center and a local kindergarten. I managed to make friends with little children, including Zeinab, a very intelligent 8-year old. She was very impressed when meeting my fellow student Nancy, a name that is considered Arabic by her. What I genuinely liked is the fact that I completely understood and managed to go step-by-step with her through all her impressions and thoughts when introducing her to one of my college friends. She is so sweet. I also met a young man in his 20s who poured his heart out to me in recounting all that he went through during his journey to Germany. What I read on the news was nothing in comparison to what I learned from him directly, live and real before my eyes for about 80 minutes. I remember that his story left a very emotional impression on me for the rest of the day. And what I like the most is that he and those around him are, despite their trouble, very good-natured and very willing to laugh and joke and enjoy the day.

This is why, when Templeton and I introduced to them the idea of a soccer game with Bard students in our local gym Spok, they were eager to participate and set up a good team with a captain. It is always helpful to announce activities in person, so I went to the refugee center to pick up all interested players. The game turned out to be successful and very enjoyable. I hope other volunteers and I will proceed with such efforts in the future to meet and become friends with other newcomers and international residents in Pankow."    

Samantha Lagville-Graham [Bard in Berlin Spring 2016]

"As I talked more to the people in the refugee shelters, it made me question what my volunteering was actually doing. I was not saving the day. Yet what I could offer was an ear to listen. While I was not able to change their lives dramatically for the better, volunteering this past semester at various refugee shelters taught me the value of simply listening to what someone wants to share."