From Leipzig to Athens: A social worker’s Journal – Part 7

artistic papier masse

During this week I learned a lot, both during my internship and in my spare time. The week was very busy, especially because I worked a lot on my own project. The aim of the project Athens through Women’s Eyes is to connect and empower people who identify as women. I thought a lot about which methods and exercises I could use for this evening. I have to say that I am somewhat proud and above all satisfied with the planned program. In my head this evening will be a meaningful and joyful time and I can hardly wait until next week. During my studies, I have learned a lot, but to put my own ideas into practice in a short time is something different. I am very happy about this opportunity and very grateful to my Inter Alia team for so much trust.

What did I learn from that? The schedule rarely matches reality; it all takes much longer. Many different perspectives and suggestions will always change the initial idea. If you need an answer, you have to face a long time of waiting, waiting, waiting, write again, and sometimes even again and again. In other words: you have to be persistent or, as some people would say, annoying! It’s worth preparing for bad news (like the cancellation of the planned location for example), so rather be flexible in your plans and look for an option B early. Furthermore, it is worth having a team for questions and help. The more people, the more resources and perspectives. Nevertheless, it is such a great feeling, a feeling of freedom, when your own ideas become real.

working in groups

Besides these numerous lessons, there was an international network meeting hosted by Inter Alia. Some associations and people who are active in youth work came together. The aim was to talk about alternative financing methods in order to be more independent. I already noticed how important this topic is even within my very first days here in Athens. It is a matter of independence, freedom and autonomy! All the NGOs we visited, complained about the funding problems. Competition instead of cooperation, the burden of getting applications for funding, the time spent in formulations instead of actions to finally get funding for one year to start the whole procedure all over again. The situation shows how important it is to come together, to discuss and to network in order to increase the own power and influence.

All non-profit associations are aware of this problem. The solution? Funding for longer periods of time instead of short term, project-based funding. Thus, one would not only save strength and time, but also make a more reliable and more stable project landscape possible. It sounds so simple…


Through the ruling capitalist system we are accustomed to presenting any idea as something innovative, better and different. This not only robs us of strength, but often reduces the positive impact on society and often fails to meet social needs. Especially in the social sector, does it really always have to be something new? Why does one have to “sell“ or even stop a proven project, which is visited by many participants? Is the capitalist system even capable of supporting people who are not interested in making things just because of the money? How can one make the impact of a social project measurable at all?

These problems show the challenges for project-based organizations and in general the social sector or non-profit sector (NPO). This week, also because I have to start looking for jobs in Leipzig, I realized that working in a small association with a great team of different resources, strengths and flat hierarchies just fit into my future plans as a social worker. But the weekend helped me also to consider the challenges as well. Here, too, the feeling of freedom has its limits…


Hi! My Name is Elisabeth Schreier but everyone calls me Elli. I am 25 years old and I have successfully completed my Bachelor of Arts: Social Work in September 2019 in Leipzig. In Leipzig I have gained different experiences as a work student like working for and with a youth living unit for minor, female refugees and working in a close-to-family, integrative, stationary living unit for children and adolescents. Besides social work, my heart beats for animals. For this reason-in addition to the fact that I have two dogs- I absolved an internship at the institute of animal-assisted therapy and pedagogics in Denmark last year. Before going to Athens, I was volunteering in a shelter with over 350 stray dogs in Crete. After this more physical labour, I am excited to absolve a two-months internship at Inter Alia as part of an Erasmus graduate fellowship. The focus is on gaining and experiencing international and new impressions, working methods and diverse perspectives.

While in Athens, I implemented a workshop on female perspectives on the city.For more information on my project contact me