Have you met Felix? He is our new 18-year-old German intern from Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP).
Since 1998, The Selfhelp Home has partnered with the Berlin-based Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP), which works with Jewish organizations in the U.S. to build trusting relationships and heal painful, historic wounds. Each year, Selfhelp is host to a young German intern who moves into Selfhelp for 12 months and becomes an integral part of the Selfhelp family, helping residents and warming hearts.
As an intern, Felix is living at Selfhelp and assisting us with resident activities over this next year. This gap year abroad also affords him the opportunity to learn more about the Jewish culture and traditions.
“There was a small Jewish population in my hometown of Goslar. The synagogue was burned down in 1938, on the site where the town’s newspaper stands. I always thought about this and was always saddened by it.”
Felix firmly believes in taking a stand against anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination. He proudly shares the regal history of his hometown of Goslar, Germany. Goslar is known for its medieval old town, including the Imperial Palace built by Romans in 1039 AD. Felix shared a book about Goslar to proudly show off its rich history with residents. His smile widens as he talks about his renowned high school at the Imperial Palace!
In the few short weeks since his arrival, Felix already feels at home and expresses his excitement for life at The Selfhelp Home. Felix raves about the delicious home-cooked meals, loves living on his own in one of our apartments, and has enjoyed sharing our rooftop garden with his friends over breakfast! He has made connections with residents. Felix was especially impressed by the German speaking community, who “speak German fluently and carry themselves with such grace.” Felix regularly visits residents in their apartments to read and converse. His days are full with leading the morning exercise, assisting with daily activities (movie time, lectures, concerts, etc.) and sharing in the weekly Shabbat traditions and Jewish holidays.
Felix sees the Torah as the starting point for all religions and eagerly looks forward to studying the teachings further in the Jewish Studies course lead by Director of Jewish Life, Jonathan Schwartz. Felix stated, “It’s a nationality and a deeply rich culture.” He is so grateful to join our weekly Shabbat services complete with challah, matzo ball soup, and stories!
Felix shares his many talents and passion for acting, singing, playing piano and the guitar. He looks forward to leading a sing-a-long with the residents! He has set a goals for himself: one of them is learning embroidery. Felix has started practicing this new skill by creating a holiday present for a friend. With a little more practice, Felix might teach our residents how to embroider soon…
Felix’s “to do” list in Chicago includes an ambitious list of restaurants, theater performances, museums and tourist attractions. Already fond of deep dish pizza, he is planning a trip to Greek Town and Ethiopian cuisine. Recently, he visited Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Opera. Felix is already curating a list for when his mother visits over the holiday season and to celebrate his birthday on December 27th.
Felix is a welcomed addition to The Selfhelp family. He will be here until August 2020, so as you see his bright smile and high energy around the home, please say hello and get to know him better!
For over 50 years, ARSP has been committed to fighting racism, discrimination and social exclusion through reconciliation and peace. The purpose of ARSP’s internship program is to bridge the gap between the lost older Jewish German generation and the youth in Germany today. The ASRP creates global partnerships around the world to offer long-term international peace service programs. Every year, about 180 young adults between nineteen and twenty five participate around the world in 13 countries on a variety of educational, historical, political and social projects. As the ASRP volunteers engage in understanding the history and other cultures, they strive passionately to make a positive contribution toward a more peaceful, just and tolerant world.