Friday June 10th, 2016
How can you describe the experience of volunteering and engagement to someone who never tried it? The feeling when you are starting to pack the bag; the first step on your journey or the moment right before you about to meet the group for the very first time? Regardless of whether you join our UK programme; go on NCS with our newly trained leaders or have decided to go overseas with us this summer, you are sure to come back with new perspectives and hopefully an answer to why volunteering is a must at least once in your life.
Fiona, Suzi, Francesco, Hannah, Karen, Maxime & Victor
Volunteer abroad, discover new cultures
If you volunteer abroad you get to know about new cultures. But what does it really mean “learning about new cultures”? Is it about discovering different food, languages, art and music? Or is it more? Is it easy to get a real insight into another culture through volunteering?
Well, cultures are much more than what’s visible to the naked eye: using an analogy, what we can see about a culture is like the top of an iceberg, very small compared to what lies underneath and supports it. Below the surface there is a world of values that deeply shape everything that a culture is: concept of time, personal space, what is friendship, how direct can you be with someone, etc.
Not understanding the culture you are immersed in can be tough. When speaking to volunteers about to go on a project during our North South training, “cultural shock” is always one of the things they are most worried about. To them, we say that volunteering will allow them to know the bottom of the iceberg, and although it can be difficult at times, it is definitely one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences that volunteering abroad can offer. Especially because our international partners, hosts and leaders know how to support volunteers during this process.
Volunteers approaching Concordia often don’t realise how much they benefit from it and come back to us with their eyes open to new perspectives and ways of seeing the world. And that is exactly why Concordia is so deeply involved in international volunteering.
If you want to read more about Intercultural Learning and “culture as an iceberg”, we would recommend that you have a look at this free online resource: Intercultural Learning T-Kit. Here is a quote taken from it: “Intercultural learning can be one tool in our efforts to understand the complexity of today’s world, by understanding others and ourselves a bit better. […]. Intercultural learning may enable us to better face the challenges of current realities. We can understand it as empowerment not just to cope personally with current developments, but to deal with the potential of change, which can have a positive and constructive impact in our societies. Our intercultural learning capacities are needed now more than ever”.
Concordia UK is this year hosting our very first teenage project in the UK! For 7 days, volunteers will be using and developing their English language skills in a fun and interactive way, while also doing volunteer work together with a local organisation in Brighton, east Sussex. The international teenage group will have a chance to meet local young people, socialise with them and share some activities such as cooking a cultural meal, sports activities and fun evening activities. The teenage group will be able to practice their English skills with their English speaking peers.
Would you like to be part of this experience? If so, we are searching for a female coordinator, who is looking for an opportunity to meet a group of international volunteers and share a great summer week. Accommodation and food will all be sorted, so you just need to come with high motivation, interest in meeting new people and share the experience with the group.
To find out more and apply for the placement, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer locally ,contributing closer to home
It’s certainly started feeling like summer here in Brighton recently, however, with the first project of the summer programme starting this weekend, there’s not been much free time for relaxing on the beach.
June sees the start of three short-term projects running in summer 2016, Manjushri, Oak Grove and the YMCA Carer’s Festival. Over 20 volunteers will be joining us on these projects supported by four coordinators and we’re looking forward to welcoming them all to the UK.
The volunteers joining Manjushri-1 will be heading north to the peace and serenity of the stunning Lake District where they will be volunteering in a centre for meditation. Oak Grove’s volunteers will be in West Sussex, working alongside students with special needs on horticulture, landscaping and creative tasks in the grounds of the college. Finally the volunteers at the YMCA Carer’s Festival will be busy preparing the festival grounds for over 1600 young people who attend the festival.
The end of June will also see us welcome four medium-term volunteers, joining us for almost two months to support our NCS programme. Coming from Germany, France, Finland and Taiwan, they will be working alongside NCS leaders and assistant leaders from the UK. The volunteers will be accompanying the NCS groups on the first two weeks of their programmes, including spending some time at an outdoor activity centre.
Pauliina from Finland tells us a bit about her motivation to get involved. “All the volunteer projects I have participated in have been very rewarding and are definitely some of the most valuable experiences in my life. I have learnt a lot about cooperating with people from various cultural and social backgrounds and made many new friends. My volunteer experiences abroad have made me more brave and independent, but at the same time they have made it clear how important it is to have supportive, caring and encouraging people around you.”
Project Spotlight – Trythall
As someone who was born and grew up in Cornwall, one of the summer projects that’s particularly close to my heart is the work we do at Trythall Primary School, close to Penzance in the far south west of Cornwall.
Trythall Primary School is a community based school in a rural area. The school embraces their rural location and have a garden area with a pond, a greenhouse made from recycled lemonade bottles and an African-style key hole vegetable plot. The children are actively encouraged to learn about the natural world with visits to nearby beaches, interaction with local community projects and days out to the woods for storytelling and outdoor activities.
Volunteers help to develop the outdoor spaces for the children and in the last few years the groups of international volunteers have helped to create an outside maze and theatre area.
NATIONAL CITIZEN SERVICE
Be bold, be brave, be you!
A huge hello to you all from the busy NCS team!!! With only a few weeks to go now, we are in countdown to Summer 2016 and fine tuning the timetables, a big challenge but we’re lucky to have some really excellent facilitators and staff, including local companies and venues on board with us making it fun and inspiring! And as you know, that is what NCS is all about! So, a huge thank you to those we are in touch with this year to make this programme a fantastic one! As ever with NCS, we are finding that we do need to have a flexible and dynamic approach to order to incorporate all the wonderful sessions. Good luck to all of you revising and sitting exams at the moment, remind yourself how awesome you are and the huge potential you have within you!
We have had 3 NCS #MeetUps so far, with one final one to go before our new NCSers start with us. It has been truly awesome meeting with our new amazing young people coming away on the NCS journey with us this summer, we’re ready and waiting to take on new challenges together. We have our final big meet ups the week before each date is due to go away in July and August, which is really exciting so each programme gets to meet their leaders and assistants.
We were also at the epic finale of 2016’s B-Fest at the Level in Brighton this Saturday which was truly awesome!! We were lucky enough to have a stall with our colleagues at Brighton and Hove’s Albion in the Community listening to the great tunes pumped out by the bands, eating ice cream whilst promoting NCS, good times indeed!
Do you get a buzz out of writing? Looking for some journalism or blogging experience? Want to share your story? We welcome your NCS experiences to feature in our newsletter! All we need is 150 catchy and engaging words from yourself about your NCS journey- this could be your experience summarised from start to finish, a short and snappy story you want to tell others about or how NCS has impacted your future life. If you’re interested in writing for us, and would like more information, please email Hannah who’ll be able to help.
Finally, if you have any friends who would like to get involved with NCS this year, send them our way! Places are going fast. If you recommend a friend who sign-ups to NCS Summer 2016- we’ll send you an Amazon voucher worth £15 (non-transferable).