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Thursday May 2nd, 2019

MY EXPERIENCE AS COORDINATOR

Are you looking for something worthwhile this summer? We have a few places left for anyone wanting to become a UK Coordinator, a truly rewarding experience giving you leadership experience whilst volunteering together with an international team. Below is the story from one of our leaders, coordinating on Green & Away, a project we are repeating this year.

 

My experience volunteering with Green and Away

After I came returned to the UK, from an amazing long term volunteering project in Romania, I had a meeting to discuss the experience and settling back in. Soon, the conversation turned to the future; “What’s your plans for the summer?” (or something to that effect). Bored of my small room in a busy flat and full of wholesome memories of my Balkan travels, I gladly said: “I’m down for anything!” (or something to that effect).

Before I knew it, I was heading to the Concordia office for a coordinator training course, where I’d meet a bunch of likeminded volunteer types. We discussed everything that we might encounter as a UK coordinator, if and when we ever coordinated other volunteers. The handy information we were given had strategies for dealing with matters like group cooking to conflict resolution, the latter transpired to be more applicable than the former.

Inspired and intrigued I came away with many new ways to take two weeks off work and volunteer instead. I could have stayed at a Buddhist sanctuary, worked with deserving young carers or taken part in a music festival! Instead, I was bound for two weeks camping in a muddy field eating vegan food – not my grandparents’ idea of a good break. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to working with ‘Green and Away’, an eco-friendly and creative events venue.

My first notable encounter of Green and Away hospitality came when one of the Concordia volunteers missed their connection and was going to arrive in the middle of the night. Although it was only my responsibility to ensure the Concordia volunteers were settled into camp, half the other volunteers at Green and Away stayed up with me to welcome the lonely traveller in with a cheer and a hug! It was very warming and I knew I would be with good company for the duration of the stay.

As the long hot days went on we could see the camp growing and taking shape. Structures were being built every day and the muddy field was transformed into a homely venue. We could see the fruits of our labour. Everyone had their jobs to do, which was increasingly difficult in +30oC heat, but we had plenty of water and support. In the midday sun we would swim in the stream and cool off, it really puts you in touch with your senses and with nature. Later in the evenings we would sit around the campfire or snuggle up in the Mongolian yurt and get to know each other. It was a satisfying, social and wholesome lifestyle.

We would get days off allocated during the week, so there was the opportunity to head into town and relax. The Concordia volunteers and I went for a day in Worcester, where I treated them to a full English Breakfast. Despite having a vegetarian among us, everyone enjoyed their meal (the café offered a veggie full English). This was their first encounter with a British classic, since they all came from different countries. It’s nice to know I could offer a cultural experience as well as a tasty one.

Once all the physically hard work was done and our beautiful camp was ready for guests. This is when the dynamic on camp changes from being practical and resourceful to being hospitable and service driven. The guests were always lovely and everyone on camp bands together to help each other out.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After being so absorbed in the atmosphere of Green and Away I had to don my coordinator hat once more. Gathering the other volunteers feedback was great, because I got to hear that they had a magical time too. This project was very comfortable from a coordinator perspective. Although, I think the role was useful, the accommodation, food and task allocation was excellently handled by the Green and Away team, so my job was to keep everyone happy and having the best time possible.

Despite having to resolve an issue between Green and Away and one of the volunteers after I got home, which was later resolved, I had such an amazing time. Green and Away is a special place where you can forget time passing and enjoy eco-living. They a strong sense of community which is welcoming and supportive. The work is hard and can be physically challenging, but it certainly pays off. I’m proud to have been a part of Green and Away and to have helped spread the message of sustainable development while personally having a lot of fun.


Do you want to relieve this experience? If you are interested in participating and want to have more information about it please email incoming@concordiavolunteers.org.uk or call 01273 422218

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