Blog EU Aid Volunteers Training in Paris

EU Aid Volunteers Training in Paris

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 and follow her journey from wondering what she is even supposed to be doing to (successfully) submitting the EU Aid Volunteers application form.

Have you ever had a job interview, feeling confident you knew what the role was all about, and then the interview proved you wrong? But somehow you were successful anyway and you started work and now you were really sure that you knew what the job was about. Except then you went to the training and it proved you wrong again… Well, that is the story of my first month at Zavod Voluntariat. But as they say, third time is the charm. And I was lucky enough for my charm to happen in Paris. 🙂

I was hired to work at Voluntariat as a French Civic Service volunteer to tackle the certification process for the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative. A lot of big words you don’t understand? Yeah, I know the feeling… But luckily, in the first week of February I went to Paris where I met with all the other young people working on the same project and the picture soon became clearer. Before I tell you what I’m actually doing, let me guide you through my training step by step…

The first challenge – Charles de Gaulle airport. I pride myself in having quite good orientation and not getting lost easily, but boy did that airport show the exact opposite. If you have ever been at that airport I am sure you will know what I’m talking about. But not to loose too many words on this, let’s just say 2 hours later I finally arrived to the fanciest hostel I have ever seen! However, as it was almost midnight by this point, let us resume the next morning when I made a lasting impression. Let me picture the scene for you: I am sitting at a long table with all my fellow volunteers, having a nice conversation about our expectations and getting to know each other… All good until at some point we start discussing how long we are staying in Paris and I realise I will be the first to leave. Of course, I do the only reasonable thing you can do, and I shout ‘dickheads’ at 8 people I have met just 15 minutes earlier. Delightful, huh?

Working hard during the official part of the training.

Luckily for me, these 8 people are the most amazing people I have ever met! There was no awkward silence, no grudges, no anger – just laughter and an inside joke that will stay with us forever. 🙂  The next days just followed the pattern that was created that morning. 9 people who have never met before created the most entertaining, cooperative and enthusiastic group I have ever seen. If I believed in these things, I would say that fate had brought us together…

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All the volunteers during their ascent to the Arc of Triumph.

But whatever the reason behind this amazing group energy, it definitely made this training unforgettable. What did we do? The 8 working hours were devoted to finding out what exactly we will be doing (oh but I won’t tell you yet what it is that I actually do – you will just have to read my next blog 😉 ), and the few hours we had left were devoted to sightseeing. So we went to the Europe House in Paris, we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walked down the Champs Elysees, climbed to the top of the Arc of Triumph (while carrying all our stuff in our bags, which might or might have not been my fault), visited Louvre at night, and cooked an Italian dinner for the whole team. Did we eat sphagetti? Yes, how did you know?! Basically, we did all the mandatory touristy stuff while team building until late into the evening, or sometimes morning… Have you ever had the feeling that your body was simply going to shut down from all the exhaustion, but you were just having so much fun that you somehow found a back up generator, and a back up of the back up, and a back up of that? Well that is the best way to describe my training in Paris!

All I can say is, international teams really have a special charm, and although you might not see your colleagues every day, you simply know that a bond was forged that will last forever. But please, don’t try to forge that bond by calling people dickheads! It might backfire…


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