December 5, 2017
By Svenja van der Tol
All over the world, there are people dedicating their time, experience and care towards voluntary causes. As the United Nations put it in the motto of their International Volunteer Day; Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere. Young, old, male, female, or somewhere in between, these are the people who act upon a humanitarian crisis, who support the needy, and who act for a better present and future.
Although their investments are made without a promise of financial gain, volunteers do get offered benefits something in return, such as a chance to meet new people, health benefits and, most importantly, a mean to learn new skills and gain new experiences that will be valuable for the rest of their lifes. As UN volunteers summarizes it: “Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.”
A good example are the members of AEGEE-Europe. Throughout the organisation, thousands of young people can be found that dedicate their free time to the future of our European continent and development of the young people on it. Some volunteers are active within their cities by organising events for the locals society, others cross the borders of their country both physically and digitally to work on projects such as the Charlemagne Youth Prize winning Europe on Track. And each year, a small group of seven young Europeans relocates to the heart of the European Union to work day (and sometimes nights) for a better future of a borderless Europe.
Combined, the efforts of our volunteers account towards thousands of hours of work. They are not paid in money, but in great results and life experiences. Although the experiences of our members add value to their CV, they do not always automatically enlarge the chance of finding a job, which is a struggle for many young people around Europe. One of the efforts we have taken to tackle this is by the COY-project, which aimed to develop a process of certification to enable volunteers to assess and validate the qualities they gained through their volunteer work.
Another initiative is the GR-EAT project, of which AEGEE-Europe was the leading partner. Together with partners such as the Scouts, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Youth for Exchange and Understanding, Lifelong Learning Platform and La Ligue de l’enseignement, the project aimed to create common guidelines for recognition of Non-Formal and Informal Learning (NFIL) in a volunteering context.
In the future, we aim to continue fighting for the recognition of the neverending work our volunteers deliver, and the experiences they gain while doing so. Together, we strive for a better Europe, but we can not change anything without passionate volunteers and appreciation for the contributions they make to our societies.
We are grateful towards every single one AEGEEan for investing their time, knowledge and passion in a better Europe, and for every other volunteer in- and outside of Europe for contributing to a wide variety of good causes. Thanks to your open minds and willingness to work together without being limited by borders or stereotypes, we make a significant change in together. Happy International Volunteer Day, happy International Volunteer Year!Communications AEGEE-Europe