Welcome Johannes Staron, ARSP Intern from Germany!

Welcome Johannes Staron, ARSP Intern from Germany!

Since 1998, The Selfhelp Home has partnered with the Berlin-based Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP), which works to bridge the gap between the lost older Jewish German generation and the youth in Germany while building trusting relationships and healing painful, historic wounds.

For more than 50 years, ARSP has been committed to fighting racism, discrimination, and social exclusion through reconciliation and peace. ASRP creates global partnerships around the world to offer long-term international peace service programs. Every year, about 180 young adults between 19 and 25 years old 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.

Each year, Selfhelp is host to a young German intern who becomes an integral part of the Selfhelp family, helping residents and warming hearts. (Selfhelp did not have an intern in 2021 due to the pandemic). Selfhelp welcomed Johannes Staron, our 24rd intern, to join The Selfhelp Home family through our partnership with ARSP in September 2023 from Berlin, Germany for a one-year internship.

Where in Germany are you from? What do you like about your city?

I come from Berlin and really love the city. What I probably like most about it is the fact, that everyone just expresses themselves as they want. There is so much culture and different people coming together, while everywhere you go also feels like a totally different city.

What is Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP)?

For more than six decades, ARSP has been passionately committed to the causes of remembrance, reconciliation, and peace. ARSP was founded in 1958 in Berlin within the sphere of the Evangelical Church, issuing a compelling call to recognize culpability for the  unparalleled atrocities of the Nazi era and to extend tangible support to those persecuted by the Nazi regime. ARSP operates with an inclusive, ecumenical approach and maintains an open-minded stance towards various worldviews, forging partnerships with numerous organizations spanning Europe, Israel, and the United States. Every year they send out over 100 people, mostly between the age of 18-20, to different countries affected by the Nazi regime to do something to help as volunteers for one year.

Why did you want to come work at The Selfhelp Home for your service year?

While looking at the various projects, ‘Selfhelp Home’ immediately caught my attention. What I appreciated right away was the aspect of working with elderly Jewish people, which is at the core of ARSP’s mission. Furthermore, I conducted research on the ‘Selfhelp Home’ and was fascinated by its history. After consulting with former volunteers, I was convinced.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I really like to be active, so I often do sports or just walk around talking or listening to music. If I have extra time I also love to cook and watch documentaries.

What are you most excited to do in Chicago?

What I am most excited about is to explore the city’s architecture and its museums, but also my goal is to see all the major sports teams.

What are your plans for after your year in Chicago?

To be honest, I’m not 100% sure yet, but the most likely plan is to go to university in Berlin. Keep in mind that my plan changes from time to time!

What are some differences you’ve noticed (so far) between Germany and the US?

The biggest difference that immediately comes to mind is the fact that people here, from what I’ve experienced so far, are much more willing to talk to others and start conversations. Be it playing sports or simply waiting for the bus. I think in Berlin a lot of people would look at you strangely if you started talking to them out of nowhere, but here I experienced it many times, which I feel is cool.

What do you like about Selfhelp so far?

I think that the relationship between the employees and the residents is good and there is a pleasant atmosphere in everyday life. I also think that there is almost always something to do in terms of activities.