Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Successful North South Preparation Weekend June 2009

(in the picture, participants during a session)

From the 12th to 14th June 21 participants joined the second preparation event in Brighton for volunteers going to overseas projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The preparation took place at the Whitehawk Youth Centre near Brighton, which has basically become Concordia’s second home, as we run many other events there throughout the year.

It was amazing to have such a large group of participants, and it was even more amazing to see that the age range of our groups has changed and our projects are starting to attract volunteers over the age of 30; as well as the traditional 18-25 year age group. Our group ranged from 18 to 50 years old.

Most of the participants had already booked a place on a volunteer project before joining the preparation weekend and India, Nepal, Kenya, Botswana and Tanzania were among the destinations chosen. Other participants instead came to get a better understanding of what Concordia is and what opportunities are available with our North South Programme.

The weekend had a gentle start on Friday with a delicious vegetarian meal prepared by our fantastic kitchen team. This was followed by ice breakers, games and a brief introduction to Concordia: it is always good fun to play silly games and especially name games that help get people together! After that there was the chance to have a drink and socialise.

On Saturday participants started the day with a group building exercise and then straight into a very interesting debate on what volunteering in the South meant for them. The day was really intense and continued with more activities exploring various topics such as cultural awareness, volunteers’ motivation and tricky situations they might find themselves in. Finally, during the last session volunteers could talk informally to staff and past volunteers, who were eager to share their experiences in The South.

By the end of the afternoon, as you can imagine, we were all quite tired, however not enough to prevent us from going for a walk by the sea and an evening out in Brighton! We went to a pub in Kemptown, which is a lively area also full of venues and clubs.

On Sunday we briefly introduced the wider context of the global relations between Northern and Southern countries. After that, an intense Health and Safety sessions provided lots of practical information to the participants, who were left feeling much more reassured about all the technicalities of the preparation for their journey.

At the end of the weekend, the feedback from the participants was very good and they all left feeling more confident in their ability to face new challenges and were eager to join their volunteer project.

I would like to conclude this report with a huge “thank you” to all the volunteers who helped us both with the running of the sessions and the logistic aspects of the weekend. This event would have never been as successful without their incredible help, enthusiasm, commitment and skills. So Thank you to Laura, Tej, Abi, July, Mari and also Helen and Fiona!

Finally, thank you to all the participants for their incredible contribution and positive energy!

(in the picture: the participants at the end of the weekend!)

Read here about more dates available for the North South Preparation weekends

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