Taking a breath of journalism air

By Sandra Nauth - Projects Abroad Volunteer 24 August 2016, 12:00AM

How did a German get the idea of applying for a volunteer project in journalism in Samoa? 

That’s a very good question. 

The answer goes back to the past, long ago, 20 years in fact when I watched a love story on T.V. called “Escape to Paradise”, in which a pediatrician escapes from Germany to Samoa to work and support a Samoan hospital. 

Of course the romance had a happy ending, and of course this was not real life. 

Nevertheless, I announced at the time, “One day, I will also go to Samoa to visit this beautiful place on the other side of the world”. 

Meanwhile, a lot happened, life had other plans for me and the Samoan dream was not part of it at the time.

But step by step, let me begin with a brief outline of my life so far.

My name is Sandra Nauth, almost 46 years old, German , growing up with my parents and one brother in a little village. Of late I have been living in a city with a population of around 180,000 people. I’m an ambitious and strong person who loves travelling alone, curious about other countries and cultures and who is in general, interested in people.

After I finished high school, which in Germany usually takes 13 years but which took 14 years for me, I decided not to continue directly with studies at university but to graduate a two-year practical professional training as an Industrial Management assistant. 

My professional career started with a job in the sales department of a company which was selling capsules for wine bottles. Back then, I was responsible for the first time for markets abroad, i.e. for New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. I had lots of experience and it was my first point of contact with other languages as well as with people from other cultures.

My professional experience continued with different positions in various companies. At the same time as having full time jobs in the office, I decided to study, and after five years in 2001 I finally finished my studies and gained a Diploma in Business and Economic Administration. After working many years in the position of an assistant - personal assistant, marketing assistant, sales assistant, management assistant for approximately 10 years, I switched to the Human Resources department and was effective in this business for different companies. 

I very much like dealing with people, and since I am a very open-minded, self-reflective and empathic person who loves the challenge of looking behind the scenes of people, in my opinion Human Resources work is the right task for me. It always offers me opportunities to grow in my attitude and character.

On finishing my two year practical training, one dream of mine was to go abroad to Italy for a few months to learn the Italian language, culture and also the way of life. At that time, the European Union was offering a project called “Leonardo da Vinci” which was supported monetarily by the European Union. Unfortunately this plan never became a reality since always a job and professional challenges had priority. 

Somehow I always regret that, especially because at some point you’re too old for such a thing. 

But since I’m a “little fighter” following my own way, and since age is just a number for me, I also found my own approach to implementing my dreams and my personal projects.

One example among others was I did several language study travels to different places in Italy, by flat sharing with Italian people for learning the Italian culture and language in a better way. 

Furthermore, three years ago I took up another volunteering project in Accra, Ghana/Africa by working for four weeks as a teacher in a preschool with children four to eight years old.

I enjoyed all these experiences a lot and would never have wanted to miss them in my lifetime. Sure, it was not ever easy, but even pushing the envelope was important research and experience which has always broadened my mind, my knowledge as well as my individual skills. That means, all of my personal projects I would do them again without any hesitation!

Even though I loved my last job challenge a lot as an H.R. Manager, responsible for the whole of Germany with five team members, some weeks ago I decided to resign since all my responsibilities didn’t fulfil me anymore, and moreover I was stressed and overloaded. 

My “internal voice”, telling me that this is not what I want to do for the next years until retirement, became louder and louder. So finally I made an “emergency stop”, since I felt I needed a career break for a while, to again sort out my thoughts; to find out what could be the next step in my professional career and more than that, to regain some energy.

With that idea of a career break I was also coming back step by step to some of my “old individual dreams”, which now somehow called to becoming reality. 

The “Samoan Dream” needed a bit more time to get back from the depths of my heart to the surface. But then it was coming mightily and didn’t disappear anymore. 

So I started to do some research to find a way to come for a few weeks to Samoa by doing something nice and meaningful. 

Due to the fact that I have loved writing since my youth (my mum always calls me the “little writer” in our family) and people are always asking me for advice when having to write congratulations, personal lines, etc. 

Another example for my passion of writing, for one of my oldest friends, I wrote something like a common biography of around 100 pages of the events of our childhood, youth, teenage period until today - since we’re still friends. Also since one of my dreams was to look into the journalism profession, I was searching for a way to be active in this field in Samoa. 

And quickly I discovered the organization of “Projects Abroad” which offer volunteer projects in journalism in Samoa. So I sent my application/motivation letter to the Projects Abroad organization which sent it on to the local Samoan team who forwarded it to the Samoa Observer. And then, after a short period of waiting, I got the confirmation and green light for my letter of application.

It meant I could probably explain my purpose in a proper way and it would give to me a chance to take a breath of journalism air. 

For me this meant a perfect match of one of my favourite destinations in the world together with the insight into a favourite job. You could call it also winning the lottery. 

At the end, I came to the conclusion that this must be a sign, and that I should just go for it. 

And who knows? 

After a first insight into journalism work, maybe one day I will write my own novel, and therewith fulfil another of my dreams.

By Sandra Nauth - Projects Abroad Volunteer 24 August 2016, 12:00AM

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