Theresa, 29, born in Germany but calling the world my home
I have been facing many challenges in my life so far but the biggest one was probably when I left my home country of Germany the first time to live in another country, the United Kingdom. At that time, it was a big and scary step for me, moving far away from my family and friends whom I love. All I wanted to do was following my dream: Helping to protect the environment and improving people’s livelihood in different parts of the world. I am convinced that everything is interlinked: So I thought I need to see what is happening in the world to actually be able to judge. It did not take me long to realize that I did not feel attached to any country border, rather a global citizen. I love being involved in different cultures and interact with people all over the world.
Having completed my traineeship at a German publisher, I wanted to collect educational and professional experience in other regions of the planet to enlarge my vision. I wanted to learn about cultures, languages, nature and so much more. I was hoping if I am absorbing such colorful knowledge that it should help me handing this information on to other people in the future. One of my biggest fears was to leave the people and things I knew and I loved behind. This also meant that I would need to face many new situations and deal with new and unfamiliar impressions. Especially being on my own means I cannot just hide behind somebody else’s back and hope they will take charge. No, I myself would need to become patient and creative to find solutions for challenges. Challenges I had never even thought of when I was living in my small bubble of my safe family home in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Just seeing other places, I realized how lucky I was to have grown up with such a lovely family in a country that gave me so many opportunities.
I cried at times but to give up was not an option
Before I started my move abroad, I felt a mix of fresh excitement and high insecurity. When I traveled, homesickness followed me for quite a bit at first. I cried at times, considering to stop my journey and move back home to my family. But I couldn’t just go back. I wanted to help others on our planet so giving up was not an option. It is a must to understand other places, cultures and people first, to be able to support them. Especially: If they actually needed my help or if I had a completely wrong picture of the world.
I simply believe in life and all the wonders it can bring. That might sound silly to some: But I actually think if you believe in the positive things in life, it will make you happier. And not stopping there: Sharing your happiness with other beings, not only humans, is even more precious. During my journey, I also learned about Non-Violent Communication, a method or even lifestyle, aiming to understand and helping each other. Using this lifestyle, I gained so many amazing experiences and decreased so much of my prejudice against other people which I had before. And so far, I have not been disappointed: So many helpful people welcomed me with warm hearts without asking for anything in return. It did not matter if they were Christians, Jews or Muslims. Or if they were from the Middle East, America or Asia.
Looking back, I feel happy and grateful – I would like to thank my family and others for being so supportive on my way. I wish I can return the love they gave me. I do not regret any decisions I made during my life because I think we learn from each decision and life teaches us so much.
I arrived at what I wished to do: Volunteering for environmental and social purposes, feeling as a global citizen with wonderful friends around the globe and a loving family I can always call.
Don’t just wait for something to happen
Of course there are many lessons to be learnt during life (and I am still constantly learning myself!), but I hope some of my tips can be useful for others:
Don’t just wait for something to happen – be the change agent yourself! Changes do not have to be big, they can be tiny steps towards your dream.
Be brave – and if you feel insecure, look for people with similar interests. You can support each other.
Learn, learn, learn – and share your knowledge!
Do not just focus on yourself and your problems – volunteering can shift the focus from yourself to others. And at least in my experience, it actually made me feel more content.
Enjoy life, be happy and share your positive energy with others!
Theresa is an experienced climate change communicator and project manager who knows about the international environmental peace and development sector, especially Middle East and Asia Pacific. She is a sustainability communications specialist and volunteer – currently with the United Nations. In her free time, she offers her advice as volunteer consultant to various eco-social organizations.
If you would like to learn more about Theresa and her work visit her website www.theresalilyschwarz.wordpress.com and follow her on Instagram. Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom if you have any questions.