Name: Sonja Regina Tacke
Hometown: Hamburg, Germany
Languages spoken: German, English (advanced), Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Disadvantaged Youth in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 8 weeks
Start month: January 2017
Claim to fame: Since 2014, Sonja has been a volunteer in Germany, as part of a group that supports refugees in their daily challenges, like guiding them to local authorities, searching for housing and jobs, and teaching them German. Fantastic work 🙂
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Due to different reasons I couldn´t work in my former profession as a nurse, which I enjoyed very much. So I worked as a housewife, raising my children, looking after the house, taking care for my father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. When my children left the house I decided to do something very different and only on my own. In Germany, it was difficult due to my age to find a suitable job abroad. Surfing the internet, I found UBELONG. I arranged an interview with Martina, one of the coordinators of the program in Mexico, and she offered me a job in a daycare for disadvantaged children and after that I was sure: I`ll go as soon as possible.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
Work in the daycare is very different from daycare here in Germany. In Mexico, discipline is very important to learn even for young kids – I had to get used to that. I did play a lot with the kids, I cuddled the babies and took them out of their chairs to play on the floor. Talked a lot- as far as possible with my Spanish language – about how we handle things in my country.
What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
For future volunteers I would recommend to learn and improve their Spanish before entering the daycare. I guess that really would help a lot and makes it much easier to get in touch with the staff, to be part of the team. None of them could understand a single English word.
For free time, just be open and see the friendliness of Mexican people, travel as much as possible and keep your eyes open for the beautiful country. You will always find company in the hostel for trips. I, 63, even went with an 18 year old volunteer to San Christobal de las Casas and I guess we both had fun and enjoyed it a lot.
In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
I enjoyed all kind of Mexican food and one can also find several foreign restaurants – no worries, there is a choice for everybody.