Failing Forward

with Daniel Cassadio

Chapter 11 - Subway Decisions

Chapter EntriesDaniel CasadioComment

On my most favourite couch in all the world. Its comfortable but more importantly its positioned in the kitchen where all the travellers talk, cook and laugh together. 

I wrote this blog: 

After a very insightful month, September had come to a close. A brilliant month and all the advice and education I have received, I will surely not take for granted. After a quick yet emotional goodbye to my hosts, I got on my last overpriced Swiss train.

From Switzerland, I embarked on an 18 hour FlixBus journey back to the Germany community where I’ve been twice already. The community really is something I’ve never experienced before and I truly do enjoy investing and volunteering in this vibrant and positive community. 

Before when I volunteered in the community, most of my jobs were about gardening, food preparation, dishwashing, cleaning, etc. This time round I’m doing less of these jobs and I am working in their organisation they’ve started called Peronnik. In Peronnik they provide a safe place for kids under the age of 18 who have a background of different kinds of abuse; Peronnik also takes care of children who have been diagnosed with autism.

I love the challenge when conversing with someone and language barriers are present. I find it hilarious with all the misunderstandings and you think you understand the person but then they say a word like ‘fork lift’ and you’ve been completely thrown off guard and have no idea what this person is saying. But the satisfaction of finally being on the same page and you actually get a glimpse of this person’s life. An incredible feeling.

But working in Peronnik and having to battle the language barrier with kids who do not speak a word of English and I only know a handful of German words. I felt that I had to really step out and regardless how silly I looked, to just get over myself and do it. Abandon all pieces of pride and shame that are attached to me.

Somehow though, somehow, we found common ground and a connection was created with these beautiful children.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt so far on this adventure; no matter the language barrier, no matter how severe the language barrier is, you can always find a connection. Language isn’t the only component of communication. It definitely helps in every possible way though, I was pushing one of the girls from Peronnik on the swing and she would yell something in German and I don’t know if she wants to stop, she’s peed her pants or some other emergency might of happened. I walked around the swing so I could see her; she had the hugest smile on her face. Which gave me a big smile. I simply continued pushing her and making funny noises as I did. Language isn’t the only component of communication.

As connections grew stronger with children from Peronnik, the local Germans from the community of Sammatz and all the beautiful travelling volunteers from all over the world; my time came to an end at this place. My rough plan was to go back to Lyon and see someone. There was an English volunteer named Mitch, he was leaving at the same time and we walked Sammatz for the last time and said goodbye to everyone. It’s the third time I’ve had to do say goodbye to Sammatz, and it is never ever easy.

As Mitch and I travelled to Hamburg; reminiscing some of our fondest memories of the community. Lots of laughter and storytelling was had on that train. Mitch was going to hop on a plane and return back home and head back to everyday life, he was not ready to leave. Neither was I. But it wasn’t said, yet.

I had around 90 minutes and then I had to hop onto my 24-hour long FlixBus ride to Lyon. Mitch and I were at Subway and as I was ordering I just didn’t feel right. I really did not want to leave Sammatz, there is more I could do there and more of an impact I could make with those beautiful kids. I don’t want to go to Lyon! Arrrrrrrg!

The thoughts started to leave my head as I indulged into an ever so tasty Chicken Terakihi. Then Mitch looks across at me; ‘Bro, I miss Sammatz’. The thoughts came flooding straight back into my head, he was on the exact same boat as me. ‘Same as me brother, I feel like things are unfinished there hey’. We continued talking about how he didn’t want to return back home and I didn’t want to go to Lyon. The more we talked about our situation, the more torn we felt and in that torn feeling, sparked an idea. Return.

‘We can’t just return, we’ve just said our good byes’, I said attempting to justify my trip to Lyon. ‘Exactly right man, we can’t go back’ Mitch agreed. The conversation continued back and forth, whether or not it was possible to return. 30 minutes later, we felt so torn, it was exactly 50-50 for us. Whether or not to move on. At some points, we started literally banging the table in frustration because neither of us have ever had to make a decision this big and so rushed. We both looked to our phones, to call a friend from Sammatz and ask for his/her advice on the matter. They were all still working and couldn’t respond. Mitch and I both looked at each other, and we agreed to call Olaf; one of the leaders at Sammatz. If he would like to have us back at Sammatz then I guess somehow, we’ll come back.

Mitch gave me his phone to contact him, the phone started dialling, I really had no idea what to say. Olaf answered, I told him our conflicting situation and then in the politest possible way I asked if we could return. Olaf sounded relieved, ecstatic and happy to hear our thoughts and they all wanted us to come back. As Olaf was talking, I looked to Mitch like I was being pushed on the swing with a huge smile on my face. I nodded to him.  We exchanged smiles.

Mitch went and called his mum to update her on his new decision and to not pick him up tonight at the airport. I sat there by myself in Subway and thought. In 30 minutes my bus leaves for Lyon. 30 minutes. Am I really not getting on it? Is the bus going to leave me behind here? Negative thoughts came to my mind.
Mitch comes back, ready and eager to return. Excuse the French. ‘I’M NOT FUCKING LEAVING!’ Mitch yells, quoting Leonardo DiCaprio from Wolf of Wall Street. I felt the same. We demolished our Subway sandwiches, then hopped onto the next train back home. Home for another month or so.

And for the bus going to Lyon? I left the bus behind, not the opposite. If I was petty, I would say I got the better end of the break up.

That day did not go as planned. Not much of the last 6 months have gone to plan.

Who knew you could have an adventure in Subway.