“I like that GSBTB creates a door to volunteering, but not a house”

Wanda Caddick set up a dance therapy volunteer project earlier this year where she has been able to collaborate with other GSBTB volunteers and several local organisations.

This is the first in a series of interviews with the people that give strength to the Give Something Back to Berlin community.

Hello Wanda! Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi my name is Wanda, I’m from England and I’ve been living and loving Berlin for three years now. I’m a dance teacher and choreographer. This May I launched a course in Dance Therapy.

What have you done at Selbsthilfezentrum Neukölln (SHN)?

I started Volunteering at SHN last summer (2014) and originally went along to one of their meetings to see what was going on there and if I could be of any help. I’ve now started teaching some dance workshops there to help promote SHN and provide an art/physical activity for people that attend or are interested in the centre. It is also about engaging the community, so all the classes are free and are open to anyone and everyone.

Why did you get involved there – how did your dance project start?

I was originally looking for new experiences within dance teaching and also wanted to do something with the community, not just teaching dance to dancers. I started looking for volunteer work in Berlin and came across GSBTB. GSBTB put me in contact with SHN but also with Aiden and Bernadette who were interested in similar things. After exchanging some emails we decided to meet and put some ideas together and we came up with Explore Express Berlin, a group of dance teachers, a dance therapist and other movement lovers that wanted to teach dance in non-dance environments. So we started looking for opportunities to do projects together and also support each other. We are always looking for new collaborations and new places to hold our workshops, so feel free to get in touch if you have any ideas!

Why would you recommend getting involved in GSBTB?

I would really recommend GSBTB – it’s done more for me then just providing a volunteer platform. The thing that I liked about GSBTB is that they create a door to volunteering but not a house. It really gives you the chance to apply whatever skills you have to the volunteer organisation and if there isn’t something that fits, they are really encouraging and supportive about setting up new volunteer opportunities. It helped me meet some really good friends as well as colleges and projects that I know I will be involved in well into the future.

In what ways do you think GSBTB is beneficial for the city?

It is really important to be engaged within your community, even more so for expats. GSBTB brings people together and helps them not only see what is going on in their surroundings, but helps them to get involved. It is important to have a volunteer opportunity for people who don’t speak perfect German.

Do you see Berlin differently after your time with GSBTB?

Working with GSBTB has opened my eyes to how many opportunities there are out there for helping and it is also nice to see how many people want to get involved and the different ways people can help.

What’s next with the project?

We recently got involved with the EU project The Artist Within – Applied Emotion. It is about integrating art into formal and non-formal educational and social activities. It is a really interested project now funded by the EU involving organizations from Germany, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria and Hungary. All the organizations specialize or integrate the ideas of art in society and education in many different forms and platforms.

The two-year project will be holding four workshops Italy, Germany, Poland and Hungary training people who wish to work more within art or society, helping develop skills and finding new ways to integrate different art modalities. In October we will have our big training in Leipzig over two weeks, where I will be teaching improvisation and movement workshops.

Over the summer I starting teaching for Solidarigee (Solidarity-Refugee) who I found through a post on the GSBTB website just before the summer and ended up running a refugee boys summer dance project for them. It was so fun and so rewarding! They will be holding some activities over the Winter break and will be looking for volunteers – they will also be running football projects and other after school activities.

Photography by Kalle Kuikkaniemi.