Volunteer of the month: Hannes Tabert, Gießen, Germany

It’s a little noisy in the classroom. ‘If you want to say something please put up your hand, otherwise let your classmates finish talking. Anything else would be unfair.’ 30 sets of eyes are now backing on Hannes Tabert, our volunteer of the week, who has already taught over 1,000 school children. During sixth period, ten- to fifteen-year-old school children aren’t always the easiest to get under control. The Gießen medical student has discovered strategies though, that work very well for him. To find out how he perceives his work with EAT, I spoke to him.


Hannes, what has left the biggest impression on you throughout the EAT project?


There are actually memorable experiences as part of every school visit, but I think the one that impacted me the most was my first school visit. It was unbelievably quiet in the hall while I was giving the presentation with my colleague. Barely any of the children chatted. Particularly not while our COPD patient spoke with them. The children were incredibly interested at once and asked questions relating to almost every topic – and they were really very in-depth! I didn’t expect that.’


What do you enjoy about your work with EAT?


‘I like that we can work with the school children in an uncomplicated way and in a really relaxed atmosphere. In doing so, the experience I’ve already described can continue and as a mentor I get the feeling that I’m really getting somewhere. It’s really fun and immensely reassuring.’


What motivates you?


When Titus asked me about it, I was completely convinced by the idea straight away. Throughout our lives, from when we’re really little, we come into contact with smokers, often in our own families. I always asked myself why people smoked at all, when everyone knows that smoking is harmful. But if I then ask why people smoke or why they started smoking I rarely get really plausible answers, even today. That’s why I think it’s important to show children early, what consequences they could face as a result of smoking and perhaps protect some from those consequences.’


What’s the biggest challenge you have faced so far?


‘I can’t remember a specific moment, but there are always classes that are a little harder to handle and every now and then there are a few small, but full-blown saboteurs, who just want to be over the top and funny. That is then, just like in the question, a real challenge and at the end you can leave the seminar feeling quite low. For a moment you might also feel a little bit dejected, but that’s just part of it and you might learn something from some sessions, and then you can do better the next time.’


Thank you for the interview, Hannes!


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