A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE
A Vietnamese writer once wrote: “In your 20s, you have nothing but healthy legs and a fearless heart of the unknown things. That is the best time to travel and learn about the world." I have never expressed how privileged I am to participate in Global Place project hosted by United Societies of Balkans, Thessaloniki (Greece), where I had a chance to meet amazing friends, learned valuable lessons about Greek culture and exposed myself to a multicultural environment with other international volunteers who are expending their effort to strive for the betterment of community and the creation of Balkans unity.
United Societies of Balkans (U.S.B) is a youth NGO founded by a team of active young people with the vision of promoting youth mobility, youth involvement in volunteering and their further sensitizing around social issues. During 3 weeks of Global Place project, I expanded my knowledge about international project management in the field of EVS program by observing overall operational activities of EVS volunteers and the way U.S.B deals with its international volunteers in order to bring out their best contribution.
Besides, through interactive sessions with local youth and informative meetings with local NGO, I had an opportunity to introduce about Vietnam, my sending organization and its volunteer activities as well as to gain a deeper insight into other organizations regarding their mission and international projects, thereby strengthening mutual long-term cooperation and boosting volunteer exchange and sustainable development
Furthermore, I improved myself to be a better “global citizen” thanks to the exposure to an international environment in which I learned to adapt to multicultural culture and live harmoniously with other volunteers in the same flat. Together we shared splendid memories such as the 80s party, Color Festival, International Fencing Day… All of these experiences are indeed worth to remember forever!
One of the best things about U.S.B is giving all volunteers the authority to hold weekly workshops in which everybody can share their philosophies, experiences and perspectives about volunteering, youth and life. From these workshops, I can totally contemplate myself and realize how valuable voluntarism has brought to me. Volunteering prompts me to become more mature and responsible not only with my life but also with the community that I live in. Volunteering makes me aware that I do not have to be a powerful person to change people’s lives and make a difference to the world. Volunteering helps me appreciate things that I have always taken for granted and gives me the satisfaction of playing an important role in somebody else’s life. Volunteering offers me the opportunities to discover my real values, gain precious lessons, develop social skills and meet the most inspiring people I have ever had the privilege to.
Global Place project in Thessaloniki was truly an opportunity to learn and exchange ideas with other NGOs on measures to improve volunteer service, and I am glad to be a part of this once-in-life-time experience.
Doan Thi Thanh Huong
(From SJ Vietnam)