Programme & action: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: Training Course
Venue: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Dates: 11 – 17 November 2019
Participants: Tereza Homulková, Lukáš Peluněk
Hosting organisation: Cooperation for Voluntary Service Bulgaria
Participating countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Bulgaria.
Project report: “Volunteering from A to Z: Volunteers’ management”
Welcome to Bulgaria! Country of unbealivable atmosphere and possibilities!
I have landed in Sofia and had one day to explore this wonderful city. With the free city tour it was an amazing experience for me to feel spirit of this ancient city, originally named Serdika. When I landed at the airport, I didn’t realized that there is a time difference + 1hour, which caused me a little jetlag. But when I walked all around the streets I felt more like travelling to past, old communist buildings, not so comfortable pavements for walking- especially with luggage-, abandoned houses, etc. BUT! I felt astonished by the architecture, the calmness and the people..Yes, time kind of stopped here for a while but in a very nice way. And the people! Always welcoming you, smiling and enjoying the atmosphere of their own city.
On 1st evening our team wasn’t complete but we started with the name games and introduction.Name games continued next day but in a different way. We tried to memorize our names based on sharing stories. Stories from our volunteer’s life.
As we shared our stories, we became closer. There were volunteers beginners (like me, few experiences with workaway platform), then short term and long term ESC participants or teachers who are spending their free time by helping local NGOs or teaching English to immigrants. Or my favourite volunteer Silvana, who said: “I’m volunteering all my life, it’s kind of my nature. I just can’t help myself and I can’t stop. I can’t wait to retire in few years because then I will have even more time for the volunteering!”
We shared our expectations, fears but also our own possible contribution to this course. Throughout all training two main questions were discussed:
- What is the reason for volunteering? What are the gains and gives? Why people do that?
Answering and discussing those questions were difficult and we must admit that other people might consider us as being aliens. But we embraced this fact knowing that we are coming from a different planet, the better one: “Volunteers’ planet”.
- How to motivate the volunteer? How to keep them in your organisation? How to work with their recognition? How to treat them? What to expect? What are the volunteer’s/NGO’s responsibilities? What problems we can face? How to deal with them?
We discussed those questions with the help of the Volunteer’s management circle, crisis plan and again shared our stories, ideas and good practices.As you can see the training course was fully packed and we needed to clear our minds a little bit. One day there was a study visit of the city Plovdid. But wait..this year is very special for Plovdid as it was named European capital of Culture. Congratulations, Plovdid, you did it!
It was amazing to see how Plovdid was blooming during those days, so many culture events and the life in the streets!
But this title bears also many opportunities for volunteers all around the world. Local authorities need extra help with organising the enorme number of events so every hand counts! As this year is getting to closer to the end, it’s time for Plovdid to summarize what were the gains and give.
And for us, volunteers? It might be the time to think about volunteering in another European city of Capital. Have you heard about Rijeka2020 or Galway2020? Check them out and offer your hand!
Last but not least I would like to mention the march which part of the team took part in. It was again an amazing experience to feel the connection between other people and enjoyed the atmosphere of the unity. And dancing in the streets all together with Bulgarian music- what else you can wish for a perfect day!
And huge thanks to our Fantastic four: Kat, Nat, Mira and Sara. They were our mentors on this never ending volunteer journey! Thank you, guys for everything!
P.S.: If you want too see the video of us dancing Bulgarian style or feel the atmosphere of project more, check out our Instagram and click on the highligted Volunteering from A to Z stories!