In what is commonly known as a gap year, between her secondary education and attending a University, Sophie Kiner Jørgensen (20) has decided to devote her time to traveling and volunteering around the world.
Sophie volunteers four hours a day, five days a week at an early childhood development center in one of the many impoverished neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is a neighborhood that struggles with upward growth of its residents and Kiner sees this as an opportunity to help people less fortunate than herself and also to advance herself toward her final educational and career goals as well as do something positive for people in need.
“My task is to assist the teachers whenever they need me. I am playing with the kids, singing songs with them, helping them to go the bathroom and just making sure that they have a good day in kindergarten.” Said Kiner.
Along with working as a volunteer to achieve her academic and ultimately her career goals, making a difference is also important for Kiner, she believes that she is helping to make a difference in the lives of the children.
“The thing is that they are living in a slum area, so they need some space where they can express themselves and where they can play and feel happy.” Kiner said. “Most of them live in just one room with their entire family or in the streets, they just need to feel happy.”
Watching Kiner work with the children, it is obvious that she is enjoying what she is doing and also that the children are happy when they are in the school with her.
Kiner wants to study anthropology when she continues her education. This opportunity here in Buenos Aires is critical to advancing herself to study her chosen field.
“I came to Argentina because I wanted to learn about the culture here and I thought that volunteering would be a good idea because I can see how the living conditions are here and in the slum and that is a big contrast to what I have back home.” Kiner said. “I think it is a good experience for me to learn about another culture”
Kiner believes immersion in another culture is also critical to learning more about herself. The opportunity working with Voluntario Global has helped her to learn more about herself in the five weeks that she has spent in Buenos Aires. Working with the children in an environment that sharply contrasts to her life in Denmark, where poverty and homelessness are not an issue and have played a crucial role in her own self development.
“Before arriving here, I traveled for two months with a big group from Denmark. Here I am pretty much alone and I experience a lot by myself and I though that I would be fine but I am a little alone here.” Kiner said. “But it makes you stronger if you just grab all the challenges.”