There are probably some people who wonder what I spend my time with in Russia. Do I just relax and go for long walks in a fairytale snow landscape and eat delicious Tatar food? I do that too. No doubt about it. But I also work as a volunteer in a hostel and teach English at a school for children. In this post I will tell you a little more about my volunteering at an epic hostel in Kazan.
The hostel is called Kazanskoe Padvorye and I found it through the platform www.workaway.info, which is a page where you can find volunteer work all over the world. I used the platform last year when I traveled to Israel, the Phillippines, Taiwan and Thailand and got so many unforgettable memories and new friends from all over the world. Being a volunteer in another country (and especially in a hostel) gives you a unique opportunity to get to know the local people and get a feel of how they work and live. At the same time, you will be able to meet other like-minded travelers who are also volunteers in the same place and often have the same openness, passion for travelling and curiosity for the world as yourself.
Kazanskoe Podvorye Hostel
One of the reasons why this hostel in Kazan wants volunteers from all over the world is that they create a special international atmosphere that is truly unique. And that’s why I love this hostel because it feels like the whole world is gathered in one place. I have already met so many amazing people from many places in the world at this hostel in the short 2-3 weeks that I have been here.
Firstly, I’ve met a lot of Russians as the people who work here are of course locals. From the receptionists to the cafe staff at the Haluma Cafe, which is linked to the hostel.
Secondly, I spend a lot of time with the other volunteers here. At present we have Juan from Uruguay, Olivier from France and Ayman from Morocco. Last week we also had Marlén and Doreen from France, who have continuted their travels.
Thirdly, I meet many of the guests at the hostel whom I talk to during breakfast or to the many events at the hostel in the evenings. I have talked to people from different parts of Russia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Taiwan, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Iran, USA, and even Denmark!
Events for the guests at the hostel
And what is it that I actually do here. The volunteers contribute with what they are good at and what they want to do. For example, Juan is really good at cooking, so he sometimes teaches the chefs in the kitchen how to cook various exciting Latin American dishes that they then sell in the hostel’s cafe. Having worked with social media and being a hobby photographer, I shoot pictures, make videos and help the PR manager of the hostel with managing the social media sites of the hostel. Especially with Facebook as Russians are not used to it, as they mostly use another social media called Vkontakte.
In addition, the volunteers organize events every evening for the guests of the hostel. It can be anything from cooking, teaching languages, film nights, board games or anything else. It’s entirely up to the volunteers. It is a great idea where both young and old people attend and it is something that truly makes this hostel in Kazan something unique.
So far, I have orgnized the following events:
Hear about Denmark
The first event I held at the hostel was an evening about Denmark. An evening with everything from LEGO, Carlsberg, Æ/Ø/Å and the royal family to cinnamon on your 25 year birthday, partying when becoming a student and (of course) ‘hygge’!
‘Drømmekage’ in Kazan
As a rule, volunteers make some traditional dishes from where they come from. As a vegetarian there are a lot of traditional danish dishes that I do not eat and therefore I chose to prepare a dessert. And one of the most Danish desserts (in my opinion) is something called ‘drømmekage’ which translates to ‘dream cake’.
The funny thing was that, there actually was a couple from Denmark living at the hostel that day. The woman is from Kazan and the man is from Birkerød in Denmark. What are the odds …
The cake was good, but we put too much sugar and butter in the coconut mixture that goes on top, so it turned out too sweet and not quite firm as it should be. Oh well, we had fun.
I’m by no means a professional yoga instructor, but I’ve been to a lot of yoga classes and I can teach a yoga class for beginners. I know that yoga is very complex and there are many branches of yoga, but if I roughly split yoga into two types, there is the meditating kind and the physical kind. We did the physical kind.
I also organized another cooking evening where we made vegan mini-burgers made of kidney beans, onion, garlic, carrots and oatmeal. It was a hit!
Here are some examples of other events that we have held at the hostel in the last couple of weeks:
- Learn arabic
- Pizza from Uruguay
- Moroccan food
- Karaoke night
- French movie night