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Summer in quarantine

After receiving my TEFL certificate in March I immediately jumped into looking for online teaching opportunities preferably with children. Many Asian companies, among which most of them are Chinese, run kid's courses with tempting salary offers but I quickly learned that no amount of experience or qualifications matter if my passport is not from one of the native English-speaking countries: Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK or Ireland. I believed that I could beat the odds and spent two months of online research, filling out applications, setting up profiles, interviewing, and doing demo classes for these companies just to prove that I was worthy of one of the top positions, in vain. Without the relevant passport, I was undesirable. Although my efforts did pay off in receiving two offers: one from Japan and one from Vietnam, they were the two lowest-paid positions I applied for. Just to gain experience I went with the Vietnamese company and continued to look for more profitable opportunities in the meantime.

I felt myself a winner when I found a Spanish organization that was looking for native-level Assistant English teachers in Spain. They had a vacancy in a school in Tenerife from October that I excitedly applied for. It would have been a great stepping stone for me to go back to the Canaries and begin to learn about the Spanish education system with support from local teachers and the organizer company. I had my interview in May and was told to be informed of further details about my placement in June. At the end of June, I was informed that they were uncertain about everything due to Covid-19 but would be in touch with me again at the end of summer. Eventually, I have never heard back from them.

In the meantime, while I was waiting, I kept myself busy with

  • writing - It's so hard to write a book! I've been working on this project for an ashamedly long time because I keep allowing myself to get distracted with "life stuff"

  • going for walks - a couple of times a week I eloped for a long walk to the end of the town where there were somewhat more signs of nature and peace. There were so much tension and anger coming through me this summer in the unhealthy environment where my parents lived

  • yoga, sunbathing and reading books - I enjoyed these relaxing activities outdoor in our tiny back yard only until I felt kicked out of my harmony by the incoming traffic noise

  • jogging & doing physical exercises - to shake off the negative energies (and, of course, to keep fit!)

When I caught myself repetitively watching animal channels on youtube (I totally hooked up on polar bears and exotic creatures!) I realized how much I miss nature and the animals around me. I tried to recreate my sense of adventure when I took photos of some animals in the videos standing my room plant in front of the screen:

I also regularly visualized myself cuddling a ginger kitten, holding it close to my chest, and escaped into the feeling of the cuteness and softness of its nature. This is when I decided to end this stagnation and helplessness by volunteering at an animal rescue in the South of Hungary.

Welcome to RepZootic! 🐾

Before you see the photos I want you to take a little time and imagine what you'd think of the accommodation after having read the extract I copied from the place's profile:

"As a volunteer you will have your (sometimes shared) room with electricity, WIFI and more. You will share a living room, kitchen and bathroom/toilet with our students who live in the same house. This guest house is located in the area of the sanctuary. We provide 3 meals a day, also on your days off. We eat together 3 times a day (students, volunteers and myself). etc."

It sounds good, right?

It did not look good, though! This is the guest house where the volunteers were accommodated:

You can't see it well in the pictures but the furniture had layers of dust on and all the mattresses were stained. Dark dusty spider webs were hanging down the walls and basically mold, dirt, and trash were everywhere. We ate only dinners together that the host's father cooked. We were left with white bread, eggs (that the dogs who were kept in the kitchen later knocked down from the counter) some salami, paprika, dried pasta, muesli, instant coffee, or tea to choose from for breakfast and lunch. Self-service. Our host ate hamburgers and sushi while we, volunteers were left with the cheap sliced bread she bought for us. There were no students at the time I was here, yet the bathroom, which was named to be used by the volunteers and the students only, was crowded with stuff that was all our host's belongings. We asked her to buy a few things that would have helped our work (bin bags, cleaning products, disinfectants, gloves, etc.) but hadn't received anything. We didn't even try to ask her for more varieties of food as we saw how much she didn't care. There were a lot of issues with her attitude, lack of communication, and negligence toward the volunteers and the living circumstances that made us wonder why everybody rated their experience with 5 stars and gushed about the greatness of the host in their reviews.

Was it just a bad time for us to be here? Or are people afraid to share their experiences honestly because then they may not be liked? This was definitely the case with the 22-year-old volunteer girl who complained every night about what she had to endure here but stayed quiet in front of our host. Is the younger generation really that much of victim of the "like" culture? Or have they just not grown into their self-worth yet and/ or lack experience in standing up for themselves?

With respect and kindness, you can express your thoughts & feelings and if the other person cares, they will listen and will try to work with you. You can only be heard if you speak up. And your voice can help other people to grow/ change for the better. True, you are in no control of the reaction of others but that shouldn't stop you from speaking your truth, right? That's how you can grow into your confidence: honestly expressing yourself and standing by your truth.

Professionalism, transparency, and kindness were missing from this place.

So I confronted the host starting with one issue that she was not transparent about and bothered me the most but she didn't react well. She took my honesty as a personal attack, which pretty much set the tone between us for the rest of the week and she barely wanted to have eye contact with me - she was not ready to grow. So instead of staying for a month, I decided to leave after one week when my volunteer buddies went home too. We bonded over the same issues and discomfort regarding the place and our host's behaviour and supported each other throughout the week. All three of us were from different countries and we shared snippets of our lives, had long conversations, and laughed into the night. We watched movies together and listened to the howling of the wolves and the wind that miraculously opened the window that had been stuck. Maybe it was a ghost. I leave it to your fantasy.

It was also positive to be in a quiet village with animals and greens around. I used to get up early in the morning and went out for a walk in the area. I loved to discover the village. It was reviving to breathe fresh air away from the pollution and noise of the city. I could relax. And I loved the storm! Storms are so much more exciting and mysterious in a village rather than in a built-up city! You are more tuned in to the changes in the air and in your surroundings generally.

I manifested the ginger cat in my life!

There was a kitten at the place kept inside the reptile building and where the animal kitchen was. Extremely stinky part of the sanctuary because it was full of carcasses and vegetables going off stored in the fridges and in barrels to feed the wolves and some other wild animals. A couple of chick carcasses were left out swimming in tiny blood puddles around the kitchen floor that the cats and occasionally the pig, who shouldn't have been in here, were playing with and took bites from. After I had seen the kitten nibbling on the dead baby chick, I didn't want to pet her again. The sweatheart was so stinky! But I had a lovely time with her before. She loved being in my arms, so I hold her soft plush body close to my chest and spoiled her with gentle strokes. She was damn cute!

In my next post, I will tell you about my other volunteer position, in a kindergarten, where I worked as an English teacher.

Thank you for reading.

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