Five dedicated volunteers on both sides of the Rhine are working on a joint cultural program for students – no easy task under Corona conditions.
Lena Biesenbach (23), Clara Brötling (18), Lena Jüngel (18), Clotilde Kali (20) and Mattéo Zussy (19) are already right in the middle of it all: they are planning language cafés, visits to the theater, creative workshops and much more for the students from the universities of Eucor – The European Campus. However, creating a cross-border cultural offer is a challenge in the age of Corona. It’s good that the volunteers know each other and work together.
“We got to know each other before the actual start of our volunteer year at a preparatory seminar of the Franco-German Youth Office,” says Lena Biesenbach, who works in the Eucor office at the University of Strasbourg. The Franco-German Youth Office coordinates the deployment of young volunteers in social and educational institutions throughout France and Germany. Young Germans find a place to work in France and young Frenchmen and women in Germany. “In October we met again in Freiburg. However, since someone who tested positive for Corona was also present at the joint meal, we all had to go into quarantine afterwards,” she says.
“The quarantine was very difficult,” says Clotilde Kali, who works at the Studierendenwerk Karlsruhe. “We hadn’t been at the site for very long. I couldn’t get out for two weeks and working in the home office was also difficult because I’m not well equipped for it.” But the volunteers stayed in touch during this time and were able to exchange about their shared destiny.
Volunteer Mattéo Zussy, who works at the Studierendenwerk Freiburg, is also not discouraged by the pandemic. “Even if some events have to be cancelled, we can offer a lot online. For example, we are currently participating in a blog and film project in which we want to make room for voices against racism and populism.” The project has already started and will continue until December.
In addition to the joint projects, each volunteer also develops projects on site, which are often opened to other universities within Eucor – The European Campus. Lena Jüngel, for example, organizes so-called e-Cafés Tandem UHA with her team from the Centre for cross-border skills NovaTris at the University of Haute-Alsace. “In these digital language cafés, students can support each other in tandem or in a group in their language learning. We volunteers also have a lot of scope for the creative development of formats and working materials.”
“Organizing online events is a challenge for me, where a lot of creativity is required on a different, unusual level,” adds Clara Brötling, who is a volunteer at the CROUS in Strasbourg. “It is important now more than ever to create opportunities for students to avoid the loneliness of isolation and to create a sense of community in spite of everything.
In any case, the volunteers experience the sense of community even despite the pandemic and across borders. With the development of a cultural program, they are committed to the cultural networking of the cross-border European Campus.