Jana Lorenz recently returned home to Germany after spending a year of her life in South Africa volunteering at the National SSA Office. When not at work, Jana was a Scouter, a friend and a Western Cape Scouting family member. We asked her to put into words what this experience has been like. Here is Jana’s story:
“It’s really hard to write this story and to pack all that I’ve experienced here into just one short text. These last 11 months haven’t really felt like 11 months at all. I can still remember the first two weeks, when one year seemed like it would never end. And then time just started to fly… Oh well, however short it felt, when I think of all the things I saw, the people I met, and the things I learned during this year, I can start believing that I spent more time in South Africa then just a week.
It feels nearly unreal that last year’s Gordon’s Shield competition was the first time I really came into contact with South African Scouts. But even considering the fact that it felt like jumping in a pool full of ice blocks (not just because of the COLD weather, which I didn’t really expect), it was one of the best experiences I had here. It showed me an amazing – a bit crazy – and completely adventurous way of Scouting, that is completely different to what I know from Germany. That doesn’t make Scouting in Germany bad. I figure that values and the fundamentals of Scouting is the same, just the way it is run is different.
But Gordon’s was by far not the only big Scouting event that fascinated me. There was also the Rover Moot in Johannesburg where we celebrated 100 years of Rovering! The Western Cape competitions like Kon-Tiki, Rainer, Beaver Rose and Upton Shield were so much fun and taught me so much. These events – and especially PLTU – helped me gain a lot more self-confidence in talking to somebody or even talking to a group. I also met some amazing people, which I will never forget!
That leads me to my host family – the Hyslop family – who didn’t just give me a room, they gave me a home, and I am really really thankful for that! In my first two weeks here I thought “one year without my family would be extremely hard”. For me, family is a place to go when everything just gets a bit too much, so basically a place to calm down. The Hyslop family, the Goemans family and my friends, including my friends in the SSA National Office, gave me a different kind of family. Because of that I learned that a family doesn’t always have to be the typical blood-connection one, it can be built out of people who care about each other.
The National Office is the place where I spent most of my time here. Sure, there are some jobs that nobody really likes – like counting woggles, but I had a lot of fun at work! That’s firstly because of the people working there, and secondly because of the kind of work we did. For example I am very creative and was given the chance to use my creativity to make some new materials and cards! I also enjoyed all the “weird” phone calls I made. Well, the last part was mostly fun after I finished being embarrassed about myself :-). What learned through this is that people sit AT a desk and not ON a desk, if you want to spell the letter “f” you use “foxtrot” and not “funeral” and saying “SCOUTS South Africa” too quickly is a real tongue twister!
When I was not working I spent a lot of time with the 2nd Bergvliet Sea Scout Troop. Being a Scouter in this Troop was amazing and I would always choose this Troop again! I also had the chance to help at the 2nd Rondebosch Cub Pack meetings and was part of the 1st Belvedere Rovers. I am definitely going to miss it! I also took some time to travel and went to Mpumalanga. I was able to meet Rovers and leaders there too and it was so nice.
I could write so much more about what I experienced here. There is something happening every single day! What I can say is, that coming to South Africa and spending one year with Scouts was one of the best decision in my life!”
#scoutssouthafrica #Skills4Life #volunteering #Scouting #DPSG #WomensMonth