Quality volunteer management work leads to a more tolerant and better world

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32 youth workers from 13 European countries took part in a Training course for Volunteer Management. The training was organized by CVS-Bulgaria, the Bulgarian branch of the international peace movement and volunteer exchange network Service Civil International. The participants from Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Estonia, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Turkey arrived on November 11th and left a week later on November 17th with enriched knowledge and skills for working with local and international volunteers.

The international training course is the first activity part of the "Volunteering from A to Z" project (№2019-2-BG01-KA105-062812) which is supported by the Erasmus+ program and the Human Resources Development Centre in Bulgaria.

The training aimed at raising awareness of the philosophy and values of volunteering with the idea of implementation of more qualitative volunteer projects. The program focused on the volunteering opportunities offered by the European Solidarity Corps that functions since the end of 2016 and until now more than 30 000 young people have participated in ESC projects. The Erasmus+ program and its aims to encourage active citizenship, learning, and volunteering was another aspect in the program.

In the six days of the training course the participants got to know the roles, rights, and responsibilities of each stakeholder involved in the volunteering process. Through presentations, theatre performances, discussions in small groups, individual work, and brainstorming in plenary the participants examined step-by-step the 8-stages of volunteer management process. The practical work improved their skills in communication, conflict transformation, intercultural learning, motivation, and implementation of online tools for volunteer management work.

The opportunity to exchange ideas and share experiences was an important aspect in the training program. The participants used the specially designed sessions but also the non-formal delicious breaks. For the latter, every one contributed with their favourite snacks and sweets from home. There is no universe in which we can’t say that the delicious breaks were more colourful and exciting than any usual coffee break.

Since Plovdiv was the town hosting the training, we can’t skip the topic of the European Capital of Culture. Stanislava Tasheva and Kami Clifton from Foundation Plovdiv 2019, the organization coordinating the European Capital of Culture, were also our guests. They presented their work with a focus on the work of Kami with the hundreds of Plovdiv 2019 volunteers. The slogan #Together turned one of the main conversation topics.

Another guest lecturer in the training was Svetla Todorova from Mosaic Training, who introduced us to the secrets of visual facilitation. The awakening of the creativity is as important as our good skills in coordination and mentorship of volunteers. Most of the participants shared that the small and thought-through details are the ones that make an experience more valuable and memorable.

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All of the participants are active citizens who work for diverse civil causes in their countries. On November 16th, the International Tolerance Day, the youth workers chose to join a peaceful demonstration for equality “Together is better”. The participants walked through the centre of Plovdiv with messages, music and dances. The organizer was the League for equality – a coalition of organizations, activists and experts who work for equal participation of all in the civil life with a focus on some of the most excluded groups (Roma, LGBTI, deaf, people with disabilities). The participants stated clearly their support for #tolerance, #respect, #equality with no regard to ethnicity, skin color, gender, religion, disability or other identity aspects.

The training finished with summary of tips and tricks for better work with volunteers, as well as inspiring phrases. CVS-Bulgaria will present the collection to the participants of the upcoming seminar for project management of volunteer projects. The seminar will be held in April in Bulgaria and it aims at upgrading the achievements of the training course as part of the "Volunteering from A to Z" project. We will include all the gathered tips and tricks in an agenda designed to support the work of a volunteer project coordinator.

As the European Capital of Culture for 2019, Plovdiv welcomed us with its autumn colors, changeable weather with lots of sun but also foggy mornings and quiet drizzle. In the free afternoon we had the chance to learn more about the history of Plovdiv with the help of an experienced tour guide. Everybody was impressed by the architecture in the Old town and the lively Kapana neighborhood despite the rainy weather this day.

Last but not least, we would like to express our gratitude to our hosts from the Youth Centre Plovdiv and the Municipality of Plovdiv who provided us with excellent working conditions!

CVS-Bulgaria authors: photos by Sara Coll Lopez and text by Mira Popova.

 

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