Volunteer work in Berlin

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Posted

Hello all,

I was wondering if anyone had any info regarding volunteering opportunities in Berlin. It seems difficult to find, especially since I can´t speak German... Any tips are appreciated!

Thanks

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Posted

in my experience, volunteering as we understand it in the US is not the same in germany (can only speak for my personal experience in the US, though I know many other countries have highly developed volunteerism). i have been able to work out a volunteer job at a library in berlin but it was not easy and required me to sign a contract with the library that - for a variety of insurance and money related issues - is only valid for 90 days. to be honest, i'm not sure if it works the same way if you wanted to volunteer for another type of government-supported or 3rd sector organization but can only tell you what it's been like for me at this one library. the opportunity came about through a family friend who referred me to his librarian and i think that this personal connection was crucial for asking for volunteer work.

 

also, though many germans are probably willing to do work without getting money in return (such as work in religious organizations or unpaid internships or praktika) volunteerism was not really anything that people in the library i am in were familiar with. it was a somewhat of a shock to me since most libraries in the US cannot function without the help of volunteers but it's just an example of the difference of culture and probably also related to differences in economic/taxation systems. a little warning: it is also somewhat of a sensitive topic because of the high unemployment rate and people found it strange and maybe even suspicious that i was willing to work for free. so, if you're hoping to turn your volunteer experience into a job, try not to be too obvious about it to people worried about losing their own jobs or the joblessness of people they care about.

 

that said, i have had an incredible experience volunteering and have learned more in the last 2 months doing this than i would have fumbling around on the web looking for work i had no idea about. hope it helps.

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Posted

i'd be interested in volunteer opportunities. Frannie, thanks for posting about the weirdities here.

 

For sure, I'd be like 'Hey, can I help'. I know germans are too weird (woah, this is not an -ist comment. It's meant positively. German culture is way different, is what I meant by 'weird'). The formal structure and rigidity doesn't vibe for volunteers, anywhere (unless specifically allowed under strict circumstances, aka 90 day contract (?)). Period. Formal work setting, public place, organized or unorganized houseproject or e.V. (club / group). All 'suffer' the same problem. Which is fine with me. I spent too much of my life being a work-a-holic. Or as I liked to say, 'an /overachieving \moron'. In the process, I picked up some skilz. I also made myself and many other people miserable. So to say, work is not for me.

 

I volunteer, for english speakers, who inevitably I meet - who are used to volunteering themselves - on a limited basis. If they need help with their DSL/Broadband/Wimaxx, home or houseproject/WG router setup, wiring or other issues, I have the skilz. blessing is, i got a young one now.

'hunny, get the remote, I dropped it'. Okay, after I've done the dishes, and generally cleaned up, and oh, it'd be nice to check my email and just veg for awhile.

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Posted

would it be true to say that maybe people here aren't as used to the same volunteering that USers are used to because they expect their govt. to provide and pay for those services...i.e. like the library example above...

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Posted

The Treffpunkt Hilfsbereitschaft (Volunteer Center) puts volunteers in touch with agencies/organizations that need volunteers:

 

http://www.freiwilligenagentur-berlin.de

 

They were very helpful and nice, although I ended up finding a job and did not follow up on the all the leads they gave me. At the time, I did not speak German, so they spoke English with me.

 

Now, if anyone has any suggestions for one-off volunteering that I could do over the odd weekend, do let me know.

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Posted

check out Amnesty International Berlin & Brandenburg

 

www.amnesty-bb.de/gruppen.html

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Posted

i volunteer once a week at a youth club in köpenick, which has been really great. ive gotten a lot better at understanding quickly spoken and slang-laden german, more confidence with speaking german, i help the kids every so often with english homework and it helps me to feel more a part of the community and not so much of an 'ausländer'.

i found this position through www.gute-tat.de. the lady there was really nice (english speaking too) and she emailed other companies and contacts to look for a position that would suit my skills and background, etc.

 

i definitely recommend volunteering, especially when the other option is sitting at home without any money and feeling isolated!

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Posted

Hello, I’m a native English speaker from Alaska who has just moved to Germany. I’m looking to get involved in some part time volunteer activities (or possibly an internship/job).

 

I’ve got a lot of various volunteer experiences, and also a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (with an Art Minor). I enjoy very much working with children, and have done so in a number of settings: babysitting, social work related situations, sports and recreation, educational settings, and international/intercultural circumstances. My most recent position was as a Counselor at an outdoor oriented summer camp in Alaska.

 

I’m currently taking an intensive Deutsch course in the afternoons, but my Deutsch skills are lacking for the most part.

 

I would greatly appreciate any tips or suggestions for finding social/child oriented volunteer opportunities in Berlin (preferably without too much of an expectation concerning German speaking abilities . . . yet). Thanks for your time – tanner

 

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Posted

For volunteer work, you can always try english-speaking churches. I know for sure that American Church Berlin, www.americanchurchberlin.de could use some helping hands in getting things – especially practical stuff, like cleaning the church. Besides the pastor (and his wife) and the church secretary, we have no employed persons.

 

Alexander

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Posted

If you are interested in international development - that is, in supporting a small organisation for international development volunteering in Berlin, or even in volunteering yourself - you might want to check out an organisation called Commit to Partnership. It's a grass-roots level approach, supporting small partner organisations abroad to realise projects they believe are of most importance to their community. For this, "Commit" sends teams of well-prepared volunteers to work with the partners for 5-8 weeks.

I'm still sporadically involved with them and have some experience with the British volunteering culture myself, and I think that this organisation might suit some of you. In fact, it all started as a spin-off of an organisation in Scotland called Edinburgh Global Partnerships (http://egp.eusa.ed.ac.uk/index.htm) four years ago, and the spirit and philosophy hasn't changed much.

 

The organisation is completely run by volunteers, mostly students. Obviously, native speakers can offer great support for this kind of work! Also, your experience with a very different culture of volunteering is very valuable (Germany itself needs some development aid in this field...).

There's all kinds of work to do (fundraising, publicity, "global learning" activities, partner contacts abroad and project development, various training for the teams, organisational stuff, ...), and you can contribute on a one-off or regular basis (it's not a full-time job, though). They have strong social network as well, so it's a good opportunity to meet like-minded people (and to improve your German, if you wish...).

 

They meet regularly at a bar called Hannibal at the Görlitzer Bahnhof (corner Skalitzer/Wiener Straße), first wednesday of each month (so the next date would be 7th of November). Unfortunately, their website (www.com-mit.org) is only available in German at the moment, but you can email them (berlin@com-mit.org).

 

Jan

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Posted

Call for Volunteers

 

2008-02-25

 

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy is currently in need of volunteers with experience in a number of areas. If you would like to help, and feel that your skills would be of use, please do not hesitate to get in contact. We are grateful for your offers of assistance. Individuals with experience in the following areas are particularly sought after:

 

* Secretarial/administrational skills

* Writing/ translation/interpreting skills

* Fundraising/ marketing experience

 

If you feel you have time to spare, or feel you can help the organization in any other way, please feel free to contact ICD: volunteers@culturaldiplomacy.org

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Posted

Hello, does anyone know if there is an animal shelter in Berlin where I could volunteer? One where I could be told what to do in English would be good as my German is non-existant ... though I'm going to get on to it!

 

Cheers,

Dee-Dee

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Posted

I wanted to ask exactly the same question and i'm in kreuzberg too. I'm currently occupying myself by mitmaching with whatever dogs cross my path and in kreuzberg there are plenty, but i'd love to volunteer at a shelter too, let me know if you find anything out!

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Posted

 

would it be true to say that maybe people here aren't as used to the same volunteering that USers are used to because they expect their govt. to provide and pay for those services...i.e. like the library example above...

Genau. In Europe people volunteere in youth clubs and for charity. Soup kitchens and stuff like that - the red cross or salvation army. Public libraries are funded by our tax-money, so it´s out of the question to work for free there. To me that´s like cleaning at Wal-Mart for free, or something like that. Working for free in a normal job situation is odd, and not beneficial to society.

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Posted

Hi,

I'm also wanting to find a good way to do some volunteering. Can someone tell me exactly what volunteers do at animal shelters? (Or if anyone here is even doing that)

Thanks

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Posted

Bump! Anyone here have experience with volunteering in Berlin over the holidays?

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Posted

Hello

I don´t get job, so I´m bored. I would like to do some volunteer work. Any recommentations?

 

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