Volunteering Projects Management seminar in Bulgaria
15-21 July 2021
This July, the picturesque Balkan town of Dryanovo became an international hub for improving the quality of volunteering projects – thirty-one youth workers, volunteers and activists from ten European countries participated in a “Volunteering Project Management” seminar organized by CVS-Bulgaria, the Bulgarian branch of the international peace movement and network for volunteer exchange Service Civil International. The international seminar is the second activity within the project “Volunteering from A to Z” (№2019-2-BG01-KA105-062812), which is implemented with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Program and the Human Resource Development Centre. The seminar aimed to promote the philosophy and values of volunteering, which will lead to better and more successful volunteer projects. The seminar also focused on deepening the knowledge of the overall process of volunteer project management and acquiring the necessary skills for effective structuring of project activities – needs assessment, preparation, implementation, evaluation, follow-up, dissemination of results, while also the use of non-formal learning methods and creativity were encouraged. The program also covered the volunteering opportunities provided by the European Solidarity Corps, which inherited the European Voluntary Service and has so far given more than 30,000 young people a chance to take part in various projects. At the same time, we also discussed the opportunities that the Erasmus+ Program offers to promote active participation, learning and volunteering. During those six days of the seminar, the participants got acquainted with the roles, rights and obligations of all the main “actors” involved in a volunteering project. Through various methods of non-formal learning, youth workers went step by step through the whole process of development and management of volunteering projects. The practical work was aimed at improving communication skills, conflict transformation, intercultural communication, motivation and use of online tools, non-formal learning methods and creativity in working with volunteers. The content was complemented by a guest speaker who revealed the secret ingredients needed for the implementation of a successful project. Most participants shared that this information not only shows them the way to implement quality projects but also gives them the necessary “pinch” of inspiration to implement their ideas in a unique and unrepeatable way that will attract more young people in the future. An important element in conducting the seminar was the opportunity to share experiences. Participants used both the assigned time during the seminar sessions and informal delicious coffee breaks, during which participants shared not only traditional delicacies from their own countries, but also valuable experiences and interesting events from their practical work. Thus the delicious coffee breaks were more colorful and exciting than usual. The activity ended with a summary of tips and guidelines for successful volunteering projects, exchange of experiences and inspiring phrases to support and motivate the development of new ideas. This seminar contributed to reaching the goals of the project “Volunteering from A to Z”, which were set in 2019 with the first activity – “Volunteers Management” training in Plovdiv, and to what has already been achieved since then. All collected tips and guidelines will be included in an Agenda specially prepared for coordinators of future volunteering projects to guide, motivate and inspire them in their work. During their free time, the participants also visited the nearby Dryanovo Monastery and the Bacho Kiro Cave. And since the host town of the seminar was located very close to Veliko Tarnovo, we could not miss the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the old capital of Bulgaria. There, participants were able to feel the spirit of the old town, walking through the hills of Tsarevets and Trapezitsa, touring the Samovodska Charshia, learning about history and local crafts, led by a professional guide. Everyone was impressed by the architecture and atmosphere of the town, despite the hot July afternoon. And the culmination of the evening was the show “Sound and Light”. Last but not least, we would like to thank our hosts from the VSK Centaur Hotel, Dryanovo, who provided us with excellent conditions for work as well as for recreation and entertainment! Thus, the participants from Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Latvia, France, Romania, Turkey, Northern Macedonia, Estonia and Bulgaria who arrived in Dryanovo on 15 July and departed a week later on 21 July, left with increased knowledge and developed competences on the topic, being ready to pass to their local community and improve the quality of their own organization’ projects.