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Non-Formal Learning – not always easy to recognize, but all the more important


Name: Mataz
Age: 30
Home-country: Austria (originally Syria)
Volunteering experience: 1 year in Austria, starting from July 2020
Volunteering programme: European Solidarity Corps / In-country volunteering

Photo (c) Karin Gruber

Mataz came to Austria in 2015 as a refugee from Syria and applied for asylum. It was not an easy start, as it was not simple to find an internship or a job in the new country, without knowing the language properly and with the fact that he couldn’t finish his education in Syria. In 2020, Mataz heard about Grenzenlos and asked what they could offer for him. That’s how he ended up being a volunteer for one year in Vienna. “I wanted to do something that supports me to integrate better and something that is also useful for my job career”, he explains.

Mataz is doing his ESC project in Kulturhaus Brotfabrik which aims to connect people together through culture and art. Mataz’ main role is to support the project in technical tasks, such as making and editing videos and photographs. “I’m improving my technical skills and that’s very important considering my future in this field. This experience can help me to find the next steps in my path, probably job training or studying.”

In the project Mataz can also practice and improve his German. “Now I have found the confidence to really speak German and I’m not afraid of mistakes. I really want to keep going with my German learning.” This learning outcome is definitely valuable, as we all know that knowing the language of your surroundings makes life so much easier.

Mataz describes the atmosphere in his project as open, encouraging and tolerant. “I’m among nice people and they let me learn, let me try and let me do mistakes. They let me develop myself and discover new skills. I can also learn a lot from others, as they are professionals and by listening to them and talking with them I can get so much.” Learning from others is also happening through events that Brotfabrik is organising on various topics. “We had for example the event on women rights. It was very touching when women were telling about their experiences. It was interesting and I learned a lot. I hope to see more this kind of events and get to know new topics.”

To sum up, Mataz finds the project in Kulturhaus Brotfabrik interesting, useful and motivating. The fact that he enjoys the work has impacted on his whole life. “This is the first time in Austria when I really started to feel home. That is a really huge personal outcome and it’s wonderful.”

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