Nina, the French Civic Service volunteer at Zavod Voluntariat, shares with you the story of the year she spent in the organization. Read her blog post and follow her journey from wondering what she is even supposed to be doing to (successfully) submitting the EU Aid Volunteers application form.
Hey, it’s me again!
So I’ve done the training and I’ve figured out what my job is in the first place, which means it’s the time to get the ball rolling. Probably the best thing about my placement are the exchanges – as part of the project I get to go on 2 exchanges (2 weeks each) and host 2 as well. And what better place for the first exchange than London!
As I lived in the UK last year, this was sort of a going back home experience. I had been to London several times before, so there wasn’t much excitement present about discovering new things. However, I couldn’t wait to see my friends again and to spend some time working in a British NGO, discovering all its perks. So it was a nice combination of work and free time – I learned many things about working in humanitarian sector, but I also visited my friends in Manchester and Cardiff. Win-win! 🙂
Work-wise, I spent 2 weeks working with Susana from the Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA). Best part is, she is actually hosted by RedR UK so I got to pull some knowledge from both organisations. HLA is acting as a support system in our consortium, since they are not trying to get the EU Aid Volunteers certificate, but simply to help the other organisations by sharing their wisdom and experience. Nice of them, huh? RedR, on the other hand, is a global organisation with an amazing humanitarian profile and absolutely crazy (in a good way) trainings! For example, their advanced security training actually involves you getting kidnapped on the way to the training and being placed in real life situations where you have to make the same kind of decisions you’d be forced to make in the field. If you ever get a chance, I would strongly recommend you attend their trainings! Other than working hard in the office, we lived the fancy life by going to dinners in the Hilton Hotel, attended meetings in Corby, Oxford and Birmingham, and expanded our cultural horizons through visits to the Europe House and some of the Londons many free museums and art galleries. Oh and we might have had a cider or two…
What about the weekends, you ask? I had reserved those for my friends from university. I first went to Manchester, the love of my life when it comes to cities, and let loose all the student years’ nostalgia. Although I feel like Manchester didn’t really want me there – the bus trip from London which was supposed to take 3 hours, took 10 hours instead and I arrived at 5 am! It’s safe to say my friends weren’t impressed and I’m never getting a coach in the UK again (and neither should you). The next weekend I met up with one of my best friends in Cardiff. I had never been to Wales again, and I have to say it really is something else. Cardiff is a beautiful city, very green and with an amazing castle right in the middle of it – no, not on a hill or outside the city, but literally in the middle of it! People are basically like the Brits, only on steroids. Literally! I have never seen bigger men in my life, which was probably quite obvious because I spent half of our night out sitting down and staring at them with my jaw dropped. I guess there really isn’t much to do in Wales, other than herding sheep and playing rugby…
All in all, I am so grateful I had an opportunity to go to London! Not only did I get to see my friends sooner than I thought I would, but I was also given a sneak peek at what my life would have looked like if I had stayed there and got a job at an NGO. And from what I saw, that life would have been exciting, inspirational and very educational. So if you have a chance to work in the UK for a while before the Brexiters kick you out, I would definitely say go for it!