Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A volunteer story: Coordinating a festival project in UK and teaching English in Spain - summer 2016

Here is an article from one of our most committed volunteers, Barney Smith, who's been supporting Concordia for many years by joining projects overseas, promoting our work, co-ordinating projects in the UK and offering us his Blogs and reports every year. We would really like to thank Barney for all his support!

Here we would like to propose today one of his BLOGs written in 2016.

This summer of contrasts started on the English south coast in the busy tourist season and ended in the tranquil olive groves of Andalucia.

My twenty-fourth international volunteer project (my third as coordinator) was at Patchfest in Brighton, a community festival project which I had also coordinated 2 years earlier. My group consisted of Julien from France, Fabienne from Germany, Eduardo and Martina from Italy, Esther from Netherlands, and Leena and Marti from Spain. Our work involved setting up and taking down the equipment for Patchfest, and helping on the day with the running of the event, including stewarding, selling food and drink, washing-up and recycling. The festival is a source of pride for the local community and provides a platform for entertainment from local music talent. As in 2014, we were blessed with glorious weather. Our leisure activities included touring the sights of Brighton and walking under the cliffs near Brighton Marina, after which we found time for the quintessential English meal: fish and chips.

After a night’s camping near Brighton Marina, an overnight coach journey to the south of Spain, and a week’s Spanish course in Granada, it was time for my twenty-fifth international volunteer project – in the town of Jódar. In addition to our group leaders Rubén from Spain and Robbie from Ireland, the other volunteers were Jack and Nancy from China, Nikol from the Czech Republic, Christine and Sara from Denmark, Elena from Greece, Leonardo and Silvia from Italy, Mihailo and Sofia from Serbia, Nikolas from Slovakia, Jane from South Korea, and Can and Ozan from Turkey. Our work involved teaching English to the students by means of games and other fun activities. This gave me an opportunity not only to use my experience as a teacher but also to develop my skills and imagination in developing students’ linguistic skills outside a classroom setting. In our free time there were trips to Cazorla, Úbeda and Baeza, as well as hiking in the mountains, and almost daily swimming in the town’s outdoor pool, as we sought to cool off from temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.

As I reflect on my summer of volunteering I would like to thank the people who made it possible: especially Suzi and her colleagues at Concordia; Duncan, our host at Patchfest; our Spanish hosts and the people of Jódar for making us feel so welcome; and all my fellow volunteers on both projects. 

Barney Smith, Summer 2016

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