By Gentille from DR Congo

In October 2018 I went to Bad Staffelstein to a federal education center (a so called „Bundesbildungszentrum“). I attended a seminar on political education. The seminar was a compulsory seminar from weltwärts in my voluntary service.

When I knew that I should go to Bad Staffelstein in Bavaria, I thought that the seminar would be a pure presentation of politics in Germany. I did not think that we would involve in discussions and have fun there. Also, I did not know that there would be so many other volunteers from other countries and continents. When I arrived in Bad Staffelstein, I was very surprised that there were so many seminar participants: we were 26 young people from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Cambodia, DR Congo, Ghana, Togo, Namibia, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and Indonesia. I wondered what the others were doing in Germany? I was very surprised that all were South-North volunteers in Germany and they came from all over the world.

Bad Staffelstein is a small, beautiful city in Bavaria, a little more than 400 km from Dortmund – the journey was very long. We (my friend Melissa from Cameroon and me) took about seven hours from Dortmund by train, first with the fast ICE, but later with a slower regional train. In Nuremberg we had to change trains, there we met another volunteer from Wuppertal. The Federal Education Center is just a 2-minute walk from the train station in Bad Staffelstein. The seminar lasted five days – at the beginning I thought that it would be very long ‘five days in Bavaria- poof‘. I do my voluntary service in Dortmund, which is located in NRW. The people in NRW are great, but everyone talks bad about Bavaria. The people in Dortmund have  told me previously that people in Bavaria speak a funny language and do not speak understandable German and they said that there are many mountains in Bavaria and that it is always cold and that people are not nice. I did not understand that, all are German, living in Germany. But when the seminar started, I already knew after one day that the seminar would not be boring.

On the last day, Friday, we even asked the seminar leaders if we could continue until Sunday. Unfortunately, that was not possible because a new group would come for the weekend.

But, the atmosphere was great from the first day. From the moment we called our names in the introductory round, where we come from and what we do in Germany, that was really great. Whenever the volunteers in the introduction called their countries, we all applauded.

On the second day of the seminar there was a really good topic: it was about stereotypes about our countries from which we come. I think the topic is very important, I also work in the DR Congo with young people and young adults. In Bad Staffelstein, we were in two groups and exchanged views on what we think about the countries where the other volunteers come from. I was afraid that the others would only think something negative about my country because they read and hear so much negative news about the DR Congo on the internet and on television. I did not want to start at first I just listened. But after three or four other volunteers talked about their country, I got the strength to talk about my country. I have learned that not only do all countries have a positive side, and that politics is not so easy in other countries either. Poverty and wealth are everywhere in this world.