Spending a volunteer year in Germany

Since ARSP began its work in the U.S. in 1968, more than 700 German volunteers have participated in the long-term program of ARSP. The International Volunteer Program of ARSP in Germany was established in the 1990ies.

The International Volunteer Program is an exciting experience for both ARSP and its volunteers. People from varying cultures, live, work and learn together for the course of a year. During the seminars, an exchange of the relevance of history in countries and families takes place. How is history remembered differently, here versus there? And how are our relationships and our actions shaped in the present? It is interesting for the foreign volunteers to experience how societies in both the former German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany dealt with the violent experiences of National Socialism, and how it relates to Germany today. International volunteers add their own varying perspectives of the German monologue about history, they ask questions and at the end, they also take questions home to their own societies.

ARSP started the International Program in Germany in 1995. Today there are approximately 20 volunteer placements. The volunteers come from the USA, Israel, Russia and other European countries, including Germany itself. ARSP prefers working with volunteers from partner countries.

Learning from history means taking a stand against anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination today. ARSP works to foster the international, interreligious and intercultural dialogue. This way we contribute to a more peaceful and just world.

Where are volunteers working?

  • At memorial and educational sites of former concetration camps: e.g. Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald
  • In the Berlin Jewish Community, e.g. helping the elderly
  • In organizations serving refugees
  • In anti-racism organizations
  • In organizations serving people with disabilities

 What does ARSP expect from U.S. American volunteers?

  • An interest in issues of racism and anti-semitism and their connection to our shared history
  • Willingness to share experiences of identities, remembrance, and history
  • Interest in international, intercultural, and interreligious exchange
  • Interest and/or experience in the desired project domain
  • Good working knowledge of German
  • Interest in working with an international peace organization

 What does ARSP provide to make this an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for volunteers?

  • Orientation / evaluation seminars, international volunteer conferences
  • Simple housing and monthly allowance to cover basic needs
  • Health, accident and civil liability insurance

Sommerlager (summercamps)

Apart from long-term service Action Reconciliation Service for Peace offers every year around twenty international Sommerlager(summercamps). Students, workers, and others who are interested can work, live, and learn together in short-term projects with others from more than fifteen countries. For the main points of the international work camps there is the preservation and up-keep of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and memorial centers, helping out with construction and maintenance projects at social projects, and setting up free time activities with handicapped children and adults. However even music and theater workshops or similar projects with the focus on international meetings and contacts are becoming ever more important. With the practical work theoretical discussions occur concerning the issues of the Nazi past, so that a better political conscientiousness for the present and future can be achieved.

The work camps are prepared and lead by two or three voluntary leaders.