Alumni Spotlight: Tobias Koeller

Tobias Koeller is 23 years old and living in Bremen, Germany. He is working in the aviation industry and enjoys dancing, playing sports, and listening to music. He volunteered at an orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania for 4 weeks in May 2012.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Volunteering Solutions in Tanzania?

Tobias: I was wanting to volunteer for a long time (half or one year) in the future and found the Volunteering Solutions website by chance. This way I was able to first try how volunteering works and if I can adapt to a different culture/ lifestyle. Volunteering Solutions' price was very good compared to all the offerings they provide.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Tobias: During weekdays we went to the project (orphanage including a school) in the morning and helped the teachers with their classes. We supported the children when doing their classwork or even taught them subjects like English or Math.In the breaks we helped the staff, providing food/beverages and played with the kids. This included playing cards, football, jumping robe, reading, and drawing, to name some activities. After school we aided the kids with their homework and continued the free-time activities.

Afterwards, we got back home and met with the other volunteers at the apartment and did some talking, eating and watching movies, etc.

On the weekends we went on several journeys, for example visiting a Masaai Village, climbing a mountain or going on safari. So time went by really fast!

What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?

Tobias: Experiencing a whole different culture and meeting so many new people, as well as having great adventures made it special.It was amazing that all the local people were so friendly and helpful. Especially the kids were so happy and joyful despite their really hard backgrounds! All volunteers, including me felt so “homelike” in Arusha after some days and I think we really got a lot more into the culture than if we were just tourists. Most of all, saying goodbye before leaving to the other volunteers, the project staff, teachers and most of all the children was so sad. This showed me that it was just a very special trip and I will never forget it!

How has this experience impacted your future?

If you get to know about the hard life many people have in Tanzania, you get really dissatisfied when arriving back in e.g. Germany, with all the wastage and unfriendly people. I had kind of a second “culture shock” when coming back home after I experienced that you can live without so many things that you are used to. So after this trip to Arusha I know that we all should be more thankful for our healthy and well-supplied life. I also became a bit more relaxed after the trip because in Tanzania, everything works a lot slower than in the rushed “western civilisation”. All in all, volunteering really enhanced my personal horizon!