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What’s in a new beginning?

After graduating from High School I went to volunteer in Ukraine for a year. I had always had this urge to learn more about the world and to grow personally by experiencing myself in new surroundings. I had previously lived and attended High School in the US for six months – but felt, and studies support this, that I needed to be in a new place for longer – to be fully able to arrive and participate. So I set out to find a place where I could go to learn more about the world and stay for at least a year.

My parents weren’t too happy about the idea at that point, so I looked for programmes which I didn’t have to pay for. I applied to different organizations and for different countries: Sweden, Russia, India, South America and Hungary – all places I had not previously been to. I got accepted to go to Hungary and ended up in the Hungarian-speaking part of Ukraine. And boy, did this experience change my life!

It still feels like going to Ukraine was the beginning, maybe the second beginning of my life – and right now might be the third beginning. The search is over – now it is all about arriving.

But back to the last beginning – in preparation to go abroad the organization gave us a poem by Herman Hesse: Steps. I gave it to my Mum, who immediately learned it by heart and still quotes it occasionally.

This is how it goes:


Steps by Hermann Hesse

Like ev’ry flower wilts, like youth is fading
and turns to age, so also one’s achieving:
Each virtue and each wisdom needs parading
in one’s own time, and must not last forever.
The heart must be, at each new call for leaving,
prepared to part and start without the tragic,
without the grief – with courage to endeavor
a novel bond, a disparate connection:
For each beginning bears a special magic
that nurtures living and bestows protection.

We’ll walk from space to space in glad progression
and should not cling to one as homestead for us.
The cosmic spirit will not bind nor bore us;
It lifts and widens us in ev’ry session:
For hardly set in one of life’s expanses
we make it home, and apathy commences.
But only he, who travels and takes chances,
can break the habits’ paralyzing stances.

It might be, even, that the last of hours
will make us once again a youthful lover:
The call of life to us forever flowers…
Anon, my heart: Say farewell and recover!

Translation from PoetryVerse

“For each beginning bears a special magic that nurtures living and bestows protection.” is something that I try to recall, whenever changes seem scary or overwhelming.

Every line bears truth and beauty though, I think.

Since the WEB DESIGN FOR CHANGE Course is starting today – a 21-week course to learn how to build your website – and I’ve just moved from Berlin to the countryside and packed up my old life in the last week – I wanted to share this poem with you all.

Because starting on an endeavour like a 21-week Course (that’s almost half a year!) whether it’s teaching or learning will create changes. And I hope it will mark the beginning of a journey for the participants as well as for myself, which lets us “break the habits’ paralyzing stances” and lets our hearts recover through new experiences and perspectives.

This first week in the course will mark the new beginning by assessing where everybody’s at with the project they will be working on and finding clarity in what we’re doing and why and where we would like to go.

If you’re interested to join, or know someone who might be, you can still do so here.


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