Making the world a better place

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Everyone knows the typical path to professional life. But there are other ways. One possibility is voluntary service. A young woman reports on her experience and explains the responsibility such a commitment entails.

Voluntary service can mean a break from routine everyday life, open up new opportunities and bring a change of perspective. In the best case, it will be an experience for life. This is also the case for Aurélie Schroeder. When recounting her experiences, her eyes light up throughout, her enthusiasm is contagious. The 20-year-old successfully passed her final exam during the Corona year of 2020. For most of her classmates, university was on the agenda; Aurélie didn't know where she was going or what she wanted to do in the future. However, as she explains, she had always "flirted" with the idea of a year abroad, so a gap year had been an option for her for a while.

"The best time to do it is after the première and before university. You take a year off and no one takes that experience away from you." Through the National Youth Service, she said, she discovered volunteering and the perfect mission for her: six months in Greece, it was to be "something with animals". "Why did I choose this mission? I had never seen a water turtle and here in Luxembourg there is no sea. So everything I don't have here in my everyday life like that." During those six months, Aurélie worked in a hospital for turtles. "After a while, you realise how important your work is. You are responsible that the animals get healthy again. You also see less beautiful things, you have to be aware of that."

Shaping one's own life differently

The positive experiences, however, would outweigh the negative. "I followed a turtle called Forest from start to finish. I was part of all the stages of its recovery. I saw it being released again, which was great." It wasn't to be just this one volunteering experience. "When I returned home last February, I quickly got bored. So I got involved for another month in a home for people with disabilities who need support in their daily lives. It was nice to see what working with people can be like. You have to get used to them, of course, and they have to get used to you. You realise that they are a family and suddenly you are part of it too." It was not unusual for her to find it difficult to say goodbye in the evening.

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