A varied adventure in Germany with Dilyana – part one!

Meet Dilyana, or as she describes herself “a loving, creative, curious, adventurous, but also an anxious person who has a hard time saying” no “and who is working towards his improvement”. She shares her story and experience as a volunteer in Germany and as part of the Jugendwerk der AWO Württemberg team. 

Hello! Introduce yourself in a few words 🙂

Hello, my name is Dilyana Dimokova and I come from a small town in Central Bulgaria called Dolna Oryahovitsa. I am currently volunteering at the Juwenwerk der AWO Württemberg in Stuttgart, Germany. I have been here since the end of June this year. For the last 8 years, I have lived in Varna. There I completed my higher education at the Naval Academy and worked for three years in the maritime business. At one point, I realized that this was not something I would want to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to limit myself just that, but to explore the world, to experiment with a new direction in my life, so I decided to make this change. 

I have always admired people who travel the world and learn about new cultures; who stand up for what they believe in; who fight injustice, protect the weak and work for a better world. I wanted to follow this idea, but somehow I didn’t give myself the opportunity to do so. I was too absorbed in my work. I could say that I am still a person looking for my place in this world, but at least now I have an important landmark. I reached the checkpoint: D 

Is this your first time volunteering?

Yes, this is my first time volunteering and this is the first time I’ve discovered how interesting and rewarding it is. I can’t help but admit that I’m sorry I haven’t volunteered before, because it’s really wonderful.

I can openly say that in this way a person is closely confronted with the problems of society and the community in which he / she lives, which gives a very good perspective of what the world is like outside the bubble we have built. Volunteering meets you with many different human stories, you learn how to defend your position and your point of view, how to think critically. Strengthens the skills of compassion, sensitivity, and responsibility. Participating as a volunteer in a project gives you the opportunity to meet people who think the same way as you, have the same or similar values, dreams, and views of the world.

How did you find out about ESC and what motivated you to join this project?

I had never heard of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) in my school and during my student years. A friend of mine – a colleague from the university and a colleague in the company where I worked, told me about their amazing experiences and what they learned from their participation in various Erasmus + projects. From our first conversation, I became passionate about this idea and discovered how many opportunities the program provides. Then I found out about the European Solidarity Corps, but because I was in a pretty stable part of my life, I had a secure job and I wanted to prove myself in the field I worked in, I didn’t think seriously about whether I wanted to take such a big step.

I chose to go to Ioannina (Greece) on an Erasmus + project about “Cooperation to improve the integration of refugees”. During the short time I was there, I made some very strong friendships. One of them is with Danny, Jesse, and Guran – the group from Germany, which later turned out to be my connection with the organization in which I volunteer now. They left their mark on me, telling me about their life in Germany, what efforts they have made to integrate there, what opportunities this organization gives them, how they manage to protect both their rights and people’s rights through it, neglected by society and politicians . 

A few months later, Danny contacted me and told me that there is an open position as a volunteer. This news came at a very suitable time for me. I was on the verge of burnout from overworking and for a long time, I felt that I needed a change. I talked to my parents and some of my friends. I received support, as well as diverse opinions, which helped me realize that I wanted to change my life, and I made a choice. I applied and the rest is history. If you are wondering what the application process is, everyone from the FOR YOU Association will be happy to answer you. You can also contact me 🙂

Please tell us what are your tasks in your hosting organization?

First I want to say that there is another girl in the organization who is a volunteer in the ESC and we work together. Our tasks are usually of all sorts and very diverse – from disposing of waste bags, which of course is collected separately, to project management. We mainly support social media networks in which the organization has profiles of some of its projects – Instagram, Facebook, we recently opened channels on YouTube and Spotify, where we started posting various podcasts and interviews, we also maintain three blogs. A lot of the work is done in front of a computer, but in these times it is inevitable to adapt to the digital world, and this is one of the best ways we can connect with people. We also pack various shipments, materials for seminars, events,

Comment: Dilyana participates in various additional projects such as Zero Waste – for reducing waste in the office, Hejmo – a travel application in Germany, CoheART – an artistic space project in Stuttgart, Spracheteria – German-language events, Active Culture – dinners dedicated to a different culture. She also prepares digital camps for young people, where she will be a team leader.

Sometimes we partner with other organizations in the region and implement joint projects. We recently completed a competition project called ‘Fight Racism and Be Creative’, which we held in March. Through CoheART, we partnered with the Jugendmigrationsdienst and invited young people of all ages to send us their artwork – drawings, poems, collages, graffiti, photos – whatever came to their mind. Together with the team, we chose three winners who received a cash prize, as well as the opportunity to participate in the drawing of graffiti, inspired by their works. We, at CoheART, supported the campaign on Instagram and Facebook, and together with Theo (my roommate from Romania) we took part in drawing the graffiti together with a wonderful artist. It was a lot of fun! I never imagined that I will paint graffiti! 

Apart from that, we toured museums to make reports and inspire people to leave their homes, take walks, and use our travel app, while supporting the city’s culture, because, as you can guess, this sector is suffering from the pandemic. In our free time, we meet friends and try to balance work and personal life.


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