What had you been doing in Germany prior to coming here?
In July 2012 I graduated from high school in my home town, Burghausen. Because I wanted to see the world and give something to others, I decided to volunteer at a hospital in Ghana for 3 months. What I saw and experienced there really touched me, and I can’t really put it into words, but to say the least I learned a lot about myself and a completely different culture compared to mine. So I’m glad I was able to work there!
Your background (Personal/professional):
I actually was born in Detroit, USA and lived there till I was three years old – but I do have a German background, my grandparents and parents are 100 % German. After moving from the States, I grew up in the beautiful, small town Burghausen, which is an one hour drive to Munich. Everybody knows everyone there, and I love my home town.
Why did you choose to come to Australia?
Visiting/living in Australia has always been a dream of mine. It’s a beautiful country, and I always heard about Australians that they are friendly, open-minded and humorous. Also it’s intriguing to know that you are far away from your home, at the other end of the world (it takes a minimum of 27 hours to travel by air).
What your volunteer work involves;
Most of the time I worked for Relay for Life, providing administration support, phone calls, answering emails and sending out Team Kits for all Teams. But I was also selling merchandise at the Info Nights and on the Relay, counted the money we collected at the Relay (took us about one day!), and counted the stock. I also worked closely with other volunteers, which I always enjoyed!
What work have you done at Cancer Council NSW that you are most proud of or excited about?
I loved working with the team and with other volunteers. Through my time at the Cancer Council I realized that I love working together with people. I also really enjoyed to learn how a huge event (like the Relay) is organised, and how much effort, time and work is put into it. It certainly is a great event. It has turned out a big success, and I loved working for it!
What you have enjoyed about working and living in Sydney?
I really liked working in the great atmosphere at Cancer Council NSW. Everybody respects each other and works on a high professional level! But still it is also in many ways different compared to Germany. In my mind Australians are more laid back and not so hectic and stressed-out like some Germans, especially at work. Not surprisingly, I also fell in love with Sydney. I think it’s a beautiful place to live, and I hope I can come back and maybe even stay longer. I will never forget the great time I had here and how many impressive and incredibly nice people I met in Australia.
What your plans are now that you are finishing with us?
My plan after finishing my work at Cancer Council NSW is to go back to Germany, seeing my family and all my friends again, looking for a job over summer, and then starting Uni in October. Through the experience I was able to get at Cancer Council NSW I think studying Event Management is the right thing for me, so I hope that all works out.
“On a managerial level, it has been a great experience to have Lena come and work with us here as a volunteer intern. She has been a delight to work with over the past 4 months, and has shown incredible integrity for someone who is so young (she is 20 years old), travelling half way across the world by herself to volunteer in a foreign country. She has also been very open and has shared her heritage with us, giving team members recipes for German food and telling us about her life back in Germany. Lena has become part of our team here and she will be greatly missed.”
Olivia Googh, Volunteer Coordinator, Central and Southern Sydney Friday June 7, 2013