Friday August 5th, 2016
I always say that any commitment, may it be volunteering, residential or just going away for a day, goes in three stages; the honeymoon (a stage flowing of milk and honey), the challenging stage (can be compared to a Tuesday on a long week), and the making peace stage where you realise that you made new friends, gained new knowledge and are dreading the day you have to separate.
Whether this is correct, I leave it to you to decide. However I hope that after the amount of residentials and projects we been running through July and August, I believe we are one step closer to an answer.
Fiona, Suzi, Francesco, Hannah, Karen, Maxime & Victor
Going overseas with friends?
Can it get any busier than late July at Concordia? Most of our volunteers have now gone to their projects or are getting ready to go. Right now we have six groups of young people out in Italy, Estonia, Vietnam, Haiti and Korea volunteering and learning about the countries and communities hosting them.
Apart from voluntary activities, our groups are immersed in intercultural learning, workshops and fun. Our groups in Italy have been learning how to make local cheese and visited the historical centre in Rome. In Estonia they enjoyed music workshops and local music festivals, and in Vietnam the group has been on a boat trip in beautiful Ha Long Bay. Our Iceland group just came back to the UK, and had an amazing experience building a “Walipini”, a greenhouse with its roots in South America, while enjoying the Icelandic environment.
Landing in the late afternoon, the group quickly realised that the name Iceland doesn’t necessarily represent the country in mid-summer. With sunshine and 14 degrees to welcome us, we made our way through Reykjavik and over to the fjords in the east.
Based in a house on the banks of Stöðvarfjörður, we dug out the foundation for later to be Walipini, and helping the local community with removing bad vegetation. Might sound dull, but the view made it all worth it! A day of coastal cleaning was also included while some chose to spend an extra day digging on the Walipini.
The landscape of Iceland really is something. On the picture above, the group is standing on the Black Beach of Vik, and before the group was back in Reykjavik, waterfalls, glacier lagoons, hot springs, glaciers, geyser and the old Þingvellir were visited. Once back in Reykjavik, a visit to a local youth house was organised. To top it all off, the karaoke night organised during the end included everything from synchronised dancing to big Icelandic men singing “Diamonds in the Sky”. No pictures needed.
Are you a group of motivated people looking for the next big adventure together? We are currently looking for more motivated groups for the next year’s programme!
Going on a volunteer journey together with your friends is set to create memories for a lifetime! You will prepare together in sessions on intercultural learning, how to best prepare for your destination and together set your personal goals for the trip, all led by our well experienced and trained staff. Once out there, you will be engaging with the local volunteers, doing volunteering that matters.
Want to know more? Please contact us via email, and we will be happy to see if we can get the ball rolling for next year. You can also read more information about our Group Volunteering programme here.
Where will volunteering take you?
During the second week of the NCS programme we run a Volunteer Action Day, where we give presentations and run workshops about volunteering and how it can add to your CV, before the young people spend half a day working on a local volunteer project.
One thing I always stress in my presentation is that you never know where one simple volunteer experience may lead. For myself and my colleague Fran, who manages our international programmes, it’s lead to careers within the voluntary sector, and I’ve received another great example this week.
We run several projects throughout the summer with children’s holiday centre, Mablethorpe in Leicestershire. Two of the volunteers who joined our first group were due to leave last weekend at the end of their 2 week project, however, they did such a good job that the host has offered them staff roles at the project for the rest of the summer!
One of the volunteers at Mablethorpe, Yaiza, from Spain told us “everybody here is so nice and I am very happy that I can stay here the whole season. Being a volunteer has been a pleasure. I’m having a really good time with the children. We went to the beach and for most of the children it was their first time so they were very excited. We also went to an amusement park which the kids enjoyed a lot.”
Her fellow volunteer, Dounia from France, also added “we were so welcomed by the staff here and the work is great, we spend our days having fun with kids. For the first two weeks I was in the boy’s side and we went to the beach, played football and did some shopping. The centre is a wonderful place with the beach just one minute away by foot and I don’t really feel at work but at home!”
Another success this summer has been our Brighton Rocks! teen project. We welcomed 9 young people from all over Europe to Brighton last week, for a action-packed project including the chance to volunteer at two local projects, join sessions to improve their English and learn about the British culture. Run by Concordia’s Groups Coordinator, Victor, the group enjoyed the varied schedule including visiting Lewes castle where they perhaps didn’t expect to be kitted out in medieval fancy dress!
Victor said “I had such a great time together with the group! One of the best things about coordinating is that you are there for the full ride – from the first steps to the tears in the end when you need to separate from your new family. Being part of the first, but definitely not the last, teenage project with Concordia have been nothing else than a pleasure.”
NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE
Having the summer of a lifetime?
What a start!
We are speeding into August, the first wave on our NCS summer programme just finished their last day, the second wave is in the planning stage for their upcoming social action project, and wave 3 is on the way back from their first week at the activity centre in Avon Tyrell today. 75 young people have already completed NCS with Concordia, with almost 100 more due to finish before the end of the month- how exciting!
Everyone involved with NCS knows that the final week is all about the social action; a week to get engaged and make a difference in their local area. The first wave took on several challenges and decided to carry out an art project in partnership with Shoreham Port. This project raised awareness for Resources for Autism and was a great success. One team even made it onto local Juice FM by hiking on this year’s hottest day between Worthing and Littlehampton to raise awareness for The Survivors Trust.
Before they get to this point, each team are pushed out of their comfort zones and having oodles of fun to make sure they have the summer of a lifetime! Wave two also had the incredible opportunity to add some international spice to their second residential week.
While having sessions on Ultimate Frisbee (led by two National Team players and former NCS leaders), getting the basics on kite surfing and creative expression sessions (as featured in the photo) at the Bridge community centre. Wave 2 participants also had the opportunity to engage with our international volunteers coming over to do environmental work and getting to experience English culture. Never before has the NCS Talent Show (‘NCS Factor’) included English youths singing along to Taylor Swift and Elvis Presley, an Italian on ukulele with two Catalan singers and to top it off, two French boys rapping and dancing. You always have to be prepared for surprises on an NCS residential.
Going on NCS is to sign up for a summer of a lifetime! Wesley, a graduate from our first wave this summer, describes here why he signed up and took part in NCS
Signing up to NCS was an easy decision. Having the reps talk to us in our school assembly I knew instantly that NCS was something I wanted to be involved in. I spent the first week in Devon getting to know my team while partaking in many different challenging outdoor activities.
Week two brought us to Brighton university, spending the time living together as a group and continuing to learn a range of unique and interesting skills. Weeks three and four our groups worked on different community projects. Our group chose to concentrate on raising awareness for autism, supporting Resources for Autism.
Overall I felt that meeting new people was the best part of NCS. I have had a brilliant time and made some lifelong friends. It has helped me with my confidence and I have learnt many new skills.
NCS has been an unforgettable experience. Thank you.
Want to know more about NCS? Contact Hannah here.