In the context of ISOC project our 2 Volunteers, Sofia A. and Alexandra, were hosted by the organization “MV International NGO – MVI” in the city of Sassari in the island of Sardinia in Italy and became part of their multicultural team.
As it is the case for every ESC project, each of our Volunteers had a designated coordinator (tutor), who was their key reference point for task-related support, and a mentor who helped their smooth integration in the social and cultural life in Sardinia and facilitated their self-reflection and personal growth through this learning experience!
In the first couple of days of their placement, Sofia A. and Alexandra got familiarized with the work environment and life in Sardinia, and started their digital courses in Italian via the Online Linguistic Support (OLS) tool. Through a team-building event in Uri, the different Volunteers working in MVI got to know and establish bonds with each other!
As time progressed, the Volunteers adapted to their new home and working environment and got involved in many different activities:
Organization of seminars and open discussions (fora) on various social issues
During their placement, Alexandra and Sofia A. contributed in the organization of different seminars and public discussions on social issues of their personal interest. Specifically, the Volunteers chose to address issues such as Bullying, Cyberbullying, (online) hate speech, and ways to counteract them. During those seminars storytelling was a main education method used.
In the context of these seminars, a Photo contest with the title “HateBusters: Youth Against Hate” was organized, inviting students to think and express, through original shots, their feelings and ideas for solutions about one of the three key themes: #AgainstCyberbullying, #SayNoToHatespeech, #YouthAgainstHate
“Propellers” activities: team games and sports activities
Every second weekend a very interesting initiative was organized by the Volunteers for children and young people of the local community: the “Propellers” activities!
Through educational sports activities and team games, the young players cultivated a range of values that are central to the well-being of any citizen as an individual, but also as part of a community: fair play, self-discipline, respect, team-spirit, healthy competition, equality, solidarity, and so on!
Participants in the “Blind caterpillar” activity: In the “Blind caterpillar” game, participants are separated in groups. Each group arranges itself in a line, and each member puts their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. Also, every member of the group gets blindfolded, apart from the last person in the line. The teams compete each other in terms of who will reach the end of a labyrinth route first!
Non-formal education workshops for entrepreneurial skills
In the context of motivating youth’s passion on key issues that affect their future, Alexandra and Sofia A., worked on the design, organization and implementation of a series of workshops, aiming to equip youths with tools, knowledge, skills and resources for their smooth integration in the labour market and/or the world of entrepreneurship!
Young EntrepreneurS: A series of workshops that helped participants discover and unlock their potential as social changemakers via entrepreneurship! Together, the workshops equipped the young participants with basic knowledge and skills needed to engage in the world of entrepreneurship, such as Business Model Creation, Market Research, Online Marketing and Sales, Basic Business Management Skills, Communication and Negotiation, Creative Thinking and Adaptability.
Tree: A series of workshops for young (prospective) entrepreneurs, who explored concepts related to green entrepreneurship, as well as strategic moves to adopt “green” practices in their business and make it ecologically sustainable.
Media Literacy Workshops: A series of workshops targeting digital skills and media literacy competences, such as use social media, mobile, peripheral & cloud computing tools, multimedia composition, understanding and interpreting media narratives, participating in online communities etc. The workshops were addressed to disadvantaged youngsters with little or no digital skills, to increase their opportunities and integration in the labour market.
Project management and design of various youth programs
As an active part of the hosting organization, Sofia A. and Alexandra contributed significantly in the management and promotion activities of MVI’s ongoing and under-development projects. Searching for partners and creating partnership networks, planning non-formal education workshops, undertaking communication and dissemination activities such as creating posters, videos and other visibility materials, managing social media channels and websites, were some tasks our Volunteers got involved, gaining precious insights into the various phases of the Project Management Cycle.
Utilizing all this new knowledge and experience, the Volunteers worked on the creation of a new KA1/Adult education staff mobility project proposal, called “Digital Upskilling for Active Communities”. The aim of this project was to empower vulnerable groups of adults in the digital era, by means of learning how to use digital tools and social media skilfully and responsibly.
Our volunteers were called to work on a personal project concerning a topic of their interest that could address the needs of the local community, allowing them to go through the whole process of transforming one of their ideas into reality to achieve an actual impact on their social environment.
Given that the ISOC Volunteering program took place in a period of ongoing challenges due to the coronavirus-related restrictions, the Volunteers decided to create a social media campaign to support all groups of people during these difficult times. Under the title “Leave no one behind!” the campaign promoted acceptance of oneself and others, as well as respect and integration of vulnerable groups, by spreading uplifting messages of volunteers and young people of the local community!
End of the Placement
Upon their arrival back home, EKO had a “post-project” evaluation meeting, in which Alexandra and Sofia A. could make an overarching evaluation of their volunteering experience and reflect on how they could utilize their experiences in their future pursuits for further education, employment or civil society engagement.
Together we explored available possibilities in the context of different programs under the ESC or other contexts:
As a follow-up, after the end of her program, Sofia A. joined EKO’s team as Volunteer, contributing to the organization of Youth Exchange programs as well as in the preparation of prospective ESC Volunteers. Alexandra returned back to Greece with exciting news, as she was asked by the hosting organization, MVI, to continue their collaboration as a remote-work employee. Until today, Alexandra continues to work with MVI, while completing her studies.