Thursday, May 14, 2009

First Ever Weekend Project in the UK!!

(In the picture: our volunteers behind the hedge)

I think it is safe to say that on the weekend of April 18th twelve Concordia volunteers had a lot of fun! We had never run a weekend project before so it was very much an experiment to see if it would work…it did. We arrived at the RSPCA Mallydams Wood at about 4pm on Friday. The woods were absolutely beautiful with bluebells covering the floor, birds singing in the trees, and the accommodation was amazing – we were sleeping in beds!!!

After an introduction from the host, a talk by Concordia and a delicious dinner we kicked off the weekend in true Concordia style, silly games and a few beers before heading off to bed - in beds!!

Saturday was spent in the woods clearing Rhododendron to create a path that was to lead to the back of a new bird watching hide. The cut Rhododendron was then used to create a dead hedge running adjacent to the front of the hide so people could approach it without scaring the birds. The task was perfect as; it took a day to complete, we could see what we had achieved and was a lot of fun. We finished at around 4pm and took the opportunity to chill out while dinner was being cooked before heading out to go badger watching. We were promised the badgers would come but sadly the badgers had other ideas and ran off when they realised we were waiting for them – can’t have everything I guess. So we decided to play them at their own game and went off to have a camp fire instead!

Sunday morning was spent removing birch saplings and re-potting them for the RSPCA to sell on their open day in the summer - a great way to encourage people to plant a tree and also raise a bit of cash for the wildlife centre.

Then all too soon it was lunch and home time with new friends made and email addresses swapped. All in all a great weekend. See the photos at

(Helen Pheasey, Concordia UK Programme Co-ordinator)

Weekend projects…Would you like to be involved?

We have another weekend project coming up from 26th – 28th June at The Green Centre in Brighton – no beds this time I am afraid but a great way to stay involved with Concordia without having to commit to 2 weeks. Check out the website or email for more info.

Training For Trainers Berlin 2009 by Tej Mistry

A welcoming multicoloured spray painted sign stood out attractively in front of me as I had navigated 3 trains, a tram and a 10 minute walk along a dirt path from Berlin. I had finally arrived at Training For Trainers 2009 and my thoughts quickly turned to where I was staying and the people I would share this experience with.

It was a stunning location – deep in a forest – set on the bank of the River Dahme where it was calmingly peaceful and a refreshing change from busy London. Presented with my new home for a week I was anxious to meet my fellow trainees from seven different countries to share experiences and opinions with and to hopefully make some new friends.

The training had been specifically designed to be non-formal and so allowed the participants to contribute and interact as much as possible. We took part in activities and discussions based on core themes around training in international youth volunteering, touching upon leadership, intercultural learning and conflict resolution. The week started lightly and the trainers had somehow managed to assign relevant tasks like building a contraption to break the fall of an egg and silently supporting each other through a mystery maze. Needless to say there were no winners in the egg task but the 12 would-be engineers soon put there hands to clearing up the mess they had made. These games brought the group together as we worked with different people in each task learning more about the ways we worked and the strengths we had in group situations.

My time had come to shine and I was exposed as a great leader of a dragon whilst leading a chain of people in search of our tail. It all ended in a pile of people on the forest floor but I was proud to have taken them all down with me with smiles on their faces.

(In the picture: participants during a training session)

After each long day the trainers came together to recap the day’s events and to share new games whilst sampling some of the tasty German beers on offer. The evenings were great for team dynamics as everyone got involved and we saw a different side of each other away from the training rooms.

The intercultural evening brought with it some tasty treats as people from each country presented their offerings with an impressive sales pitch and those of us brave enough to try anything once tucked in. I’m ashamed to say I stuck to my seat that night for some German led games whilst Latvian and Estonian dances were in full flow, being taught to the obliging Korean guys. We also shared a fantastic Lebanese meal together on Wednesday evening after taking the day to do some well earned site seeing. I joined the relaxation group that managed to cover the main tourist sites of Berlin whilst enjoying a long coffee break along the way.

(In the picture: dancing during the intercultural night!)

As the final day arrived I felt I had learnt and experienced a lot. I had made friends from countries I previously knew nothing about and had become more informed about International Youth Volunteering and the organisations and opportunities that were available to me for the future. As the week drew to its official close we toasted our new enthusiasm with a glass of bubbly and played out the day as we had began the week with a friendly – yet competitive – game of volleyball.

The week came to a close but the goodbyes weren’t sad as I think we all genuinely believed we would meet each other again at some point in future.

The Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations organised this training and overcame many obstacles to ensure its success. The trainers and Alliance members involved led by example and created an environment which resulted in great fun, non-formal learning and gave those that needed it the confidence and tools to progress their international voluntary experience. For me it was a chance to renew my confidence and to realise there are a wealth of opportunities out there to get involved in.

(Tej Mistry, TFT Berlin, April 2009)

Training For Trainers…Would you like to be involved?

Every year the Alliance of European Voluntary Organisations organises various international trainings and seminars, of which the Training For Trainers is the most established. This training managed over the years to give many volunteers the tools, skills and confidence to run national and international trainings for Concordia and the Alliance. Participants are usually volunteers with past experience on an international volunteer project who want contribute to the activities of their sending organisation.
After the training you will have the opportunity to put your new skills into practice through one of the many trainings and events organised by Concordia.
So, if you want to be involved in one of the next International trainings or seminars, please contact the office on 01273 422218 or email and we will keep you updated with the next opportunities available in 2009/2010.

Click here for a country profile of Germany