International Volunteering Fair - a virtual look into the world of SCI

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Other SCI experience

Written by Wilbert Helsloot

December 2021

A virtual introduction into the world of SCI. 


Sunday Dec. 5, 2021, Mechelen (BE), 0.45am. 

While I am editing –late night- an article about the ongoing virtual meetings of ICM, I suddenly realize that International Volunteer Day has started. I leave the article for a moment for what it is and I open the link on my laptop to enter Gather Town.

Because …. according to SCI… the international Volunteering Fair has just started.  I heard a lot about the event beforehand and can’t ignore my curiosity anymore.      

It’s some time ago that I entered Gather Town, it is a really nice concept/application,  where you can meet each other in a virtual social place.  I am (again) struggling a bit with creating the character and to move along, but once used I am entering an amazing world….. much bigger than any previous gathertown before…..

My journey  starts in the main room, but my eyes quickly catches the beach!  I decide to directly go there and it is such a cosy place, where you even could hear the sound of the waves…..and so many places to sit, lay down and/or hang out. It will be the place of the Happy Hour later, a text-frame reminds me. Nice to look forward to!

Once back in the main room I discover someone else initially exploring the Fair:  Paul from the British branch of  SCI: IVS-GB. Later that day I would speak to him again and we stayed in contact afterwards as well.  Paul, more than a week later:  Yes, we were both “early birds” having a preview!  I thought it would be useful to become familiar the overall layout of the Fair before participating with others present.  My first impression was really how much work Anaïck (Long Term Volunteer at the International Secretariat and main organizer of the Fair, WH) and others had put into making it look so good!

I can’t do else than agree at that night-moment.  I explore the other rooms quickly and go to bed 


Sunday, Dec 5,  3.30 pm CET

High time to enter the Fair again, as I will have to run a Peace Messengers workshop!  So this time I am heading directly to the Pierre Cérésole room, where the workshops will take place. After consulting with Anaïck and facing some technical problems related to my laptop, I decide to move a bit away from Gathertown and send a link to the more familiar Zoom to the participants of my workshop. The workshop is attended by familiar faces,  the ‘newcomer’ is actually Paul, who I met last night. We explore what peace means and as usual, as facilitator I don’t have to tell much, as (like facilitators usually say) ‘the wisdom is in the room’. This time some participants even bring in wisdom from the Peace Cards, a successful workshop ran several times before at 5th of Dec at the Fair…!.

After the PM workshop it is time for me to explore the International Volunteering Fair myself. I notice now all other organizations and groups, who have a ‘booth’ at the main room: SCI-CH, SCI Malaysia, IVS-GB, SCI-Germany, INEX-Slowakia, SCI-Catalonia and Peace Cards, Paul (as active volunteer at IVS-GB) later: “my main aims were to talk to potential volunteers and to meet up with members of other branches (and to look at the resources they had set up at the Fari”. I also discover David –VIA-NL Dutch branch of SCI-, who is still around at the Fair after having told ‘live’ about his volunteer-experiences. 

Unfortunately, just before the Happy Hour at the beach, I have to leave Gathertown due to other commitments. In the evening I return once again and explore mostly the 100th anniversary exhibition-room, with amongst other the virtual museum of SCI and the movie-room. Too much to mention here at the end, I warmly invite everybody to experience it yourself here

Friday, Dec 17, 9.30am

After entering the Fair again –to refresh my mind and even to explore more- I decide to end my most recent visit to the Fair- Gather Town at the beach. There, suddenly, I come across a megaphone sign close to the sea itself.  A text explains: here you can broadcast to the main room!  I would really like to (actually to shout out loudly), but there is no-one out there to broadcast to…

Instead I am silent, I listen again to the sound of the waves…relaxing…. I just hope this article can be somehow the broadcasting….. 

Wilbert Helsloot


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