• Erasmus+

Volunteering Made Easy

From June 25th to July 1st, three of our members participated in the Training Course “Volunteering Made Easy” in Veliki Žitnik, Croatia.

© Helder Berenguer

It was 9 PM on June 22nd when we left the train station in Aveiro and headed for Oporto. But this was just one step of a great journey. The final stop, Croatia, was still 15 hours away. After a journey by train, another one by metro, two flights and even a bus, we finally arrived in Zagreb. The hunger was starting to tighten, but not too much as half of the suitcases were stuffed with food. We took advantage of that and the following day to visit the capital of the country that would host us for almost two weeks.

Despite being similar to the beginning of a vacation, in reality, we (Cátia, Helder and Ana Sofia) went to Croatia at the invitation of Outward Bound Croatia (OBC), the association that promoted, in Veliki Žitnik, the Training Course "Volunteering Made Easy". This small village, 7 km from the nearest town, Gospić, with only 25 inhabitants, was surrounded by forest, which made the cell phone signal quite weak. This was a radical change for those who had just arrived from Croatia's populous capital. Here we meet the organization and 12 more volunteers from other organizations and countries.

The seven days were intense in learning about the most varied topics related to volunteering. We talked and learned more about European volunteering opportunities, how to write, advertise and participate in this type of projects, volunteer management and motivation, but also how to create more inclusive and useful projects for the community. Several tools have been made available, including ideas for team-buildings and "energisers", tricks and tips that will certainly be useful in the day-to-day life of Agora Aveiro and its volunteers.

According to Helder Berenguer, Project Manager at Agora Aveiro and participant in this training course:

This was one of the best TCs I've ever participated in! The space was very pleasant, the accommodation and meals impeccable. The organization was really committed to teaching us and this was seen in all the activities they organized. It was also comforting to find so many young people, youth workers, willing to change where they live and work on their causes. I hope we meet OBC again and work together!

For Ana Sofia, a participant in the project and a volunteer at Agora Aveiro, it's time to put into practice the learning resulting from the project:

Thanks to this Training Course, some of my blocks and gaps related to the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programs were filled. By sharing experiences with the other participants, possible partners in future projects, I was heart-filled: there are more and more youth workers working to build more cohesive communities, by training their young people, the adults of tomorrow. It's time to move from theory to action!

To take a break from the more theoretical subjects, we had the opportunity to lose ourselves (and learn how to guide ourselves) for an afternoon, through the forest to reach the peak of one of the hills that surrounds the region. On the way we passed magical places like the "Hobbit", a space inside the forest that looked like something out of the movie with the same name. This 7 km walk was worth the moment we reached the top, from where we had a wonderful panoramic view over the city.

After various activities, team-buildings and conversations around the campfire, the promise to create new projects and take the knowledge acquired there to our country was made.

The Training Course “Volunteering Made Easy” was carried out under the Programa Erasmus+. If you want to know more about this and other programs, visit our Erasmus+ page and reach out to us. Don't miss this opportunity!

Cátia Lima

16-07-2021