The Visioneers Christmas Youth Party was a holiday evening full of chatter. I genuinely enjoyed getting to know refugee teenagers and young adults as we shared a meal and listened to an informal talk by Rob Madularu, Visioneers Financial Strategist, translator, and volunteer. The purpose of the event on December 26 was to introduce refugees to people their age and other members of the community.
The refugees I met were originally from Syria, Afghanistan, Albania, Lebanon, and Iraq. Most of them were residing at the Wannsee shelter. The accommodation currently hosts 72 underage unaccompanied refugees, and Visioneers aims towards creating engaging activities for them.
The Christmas Party was certainly a great opportunity for the young adults to get to know new people. Upon entering the church hall where the event was held, the young adults seemed excited and some of them – a bit shy. The Visioneers volunteers fast began interacting with the refugees and contributing to a fun relaxing atmosphere. The majority of refugees didn’t know English or German, and communication was often challenging. However, the young adults were quite savvy with their phones and were quickly translating between their native languages and German. Of course, our communication wasn’t perfect and was always delayed but we filled the awkward pauses with laughter and jokes. Since I have always been interested in learning Arabic, the highlight of the evening was when one of the refugees offered to teach me Arabic if I taught him German.
On a serious note, the core of the event was Rob’s talk. He addressed the topic of growing up and the challenges that many adolescents face. He shared personal experiences and struggles which were relatable to the audience. The informal address was accessible, entertaining, and well-timed. It included visual aids and music. Of course, the talk was translated live for the refugees, and they were invited to participate with questions and comments.
After the address, we all enjoyed pizza and Christmas cookies. The refugees also received small Christmas gifts and played some table top football and ping pong. Further, we shared great moments around the fire outside. The unusually warm December night was full of positive emotions for volunteers and refugees alike.
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