A series of first impressions of DNS

Written by Annelies

First impression from the message I read on a Couchsurfing Group:

Travel AND volunteer AND study? Pedagogy? This is a program made for me…

First impression from the Skype meeting:

Ok… So this is definitely what you would call alternative… I must admit that I didn’t understand everything we talked about. It was so much information! And so different from what I was used to, that I found it very difficult to really get an idea of what this program was all about.

First impression from the Preparatory Weekend:

Everything was organised by students! Some of them joined the program only a few weeks before, and they just took care of everything like anybody else. Of course there were teachers as well, but they were just as the students, doing the same things.

A big family. Everybody just respecting each other. It felt really good! And somewhat strange at the same time. I mean, who was the boss here? – everybody altogether…

During this weekend here was a tour around the campus, a presentation about the program, I joined one of the teams in a lecture, and another in their team meeting, I saw  a third team arriving back in the school after their incredible journey through Africa, someone taught me the first steps of juggling (just start with one ball and take it step by step), we camped in the common living room… So many impressions!! And I loved it all.

People asked me if I wanted to stay, but I already had a ticket to go back home. And I think that was wise. During the weekend I there were so many things I saw and heard that my head was just spinning with all this information. It was only when I was back home, that I was really able to start making sense of all this information.

My conclusion: Yes, I want to join!

First impression after joining:

I ended up joining the program a few months after the preparatory weekend, at the start of a new saving up period for a new team. It was another season, and there were not as many people around as during the preparatory weekend. All the teams were out, doing all kinds of tasks. But still, with the people who were there, there was a real sense of togetherness.

We had a team meeting with our new team. We were four already! After a day of organising all kinds of official stuff we were sent to our saving up jobs. Together with another teammate I would go and work in the promotion office of our programs. This office is located in another school, on the other side of the country, which meant my first hitchhike! It was a great experience! We met so many nice people!

The first days at the job were good. Again (yes, you’ll never guess) a lot of very nice people. But it was all very new to me. I had never really worked in an office before, and now there I was, sitting behind a computer, promoting a program I joined just a week before. I had no idea what I was doing. That was hard, but by doing it like this, I was forced to learn fast. And I did learn fast!

And now:

Now I have been in DNS for six months. All this time I have been working in my saving up job in the promotion office. I learned so many things! And still I learn more every day. These months have had their ups and downs. During these months my idea of what DNS is all about has changed many times. I have advertised it as ‘adventure’, as ‘alternative education’, as ‘your chance to make a difference in this world’.

I have had my doubts as well. Is this really the right program for me? Is it not too alternative?

Most of all I have learned that this program really is what you make of it yourself.

Because DNS is like this family in which everybody is equal, and also because of it’s vision of the world, how it works, and how we would like it to work, DNS attracts a certain kind of people. People with free spirits and strong opinions. People who do not want to follow the mass without knowing where this mass is headed. People who want to make a difference and who realise the difference will not be made by just talking about it. If we want to change this world, we need to do it ourselves.

It is because of all these special people who are joining this program, DNS becomes a ‘hot-pot’ with ideas and opinions. It gives you the chance to learn fast, and it gives you the chance to share and teach.

All in all DNS gives you the tools to build your future, but you have to build it yourself. And there are no rules about how to build it!

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