Online activities of a locked-down volunteer: a variety of learnings and encounters

It has been exactly two months since I took part in the last association event before the quarantine. It was Pi Youth Association’s 6th birthday (14th of March), and it already was marked with social distancing and anxiety about what was to come. Since that day, I have been working from home. This time was both difficult and beneficial: how? Let me tell you.

Photo source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6f/Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scan.jpg/401px-Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scan.jpg

Keep calm & Carry on

First of all, being able to continue all the activities of my project from home is a blessing. There were moments I felt a bit overwhelmed – as I was planning to go back to my country for 2 weeks in April, I had a load of things to cancel and reschedule and it kept me additionally busy. Also, together with Martyna we had to get used to running our conversation clubs online – and now I have to say we enjoy them a lot! Thanks to the fact they are 100% online lessons, we now host participants from the whole country and get to know people from all Turkey, which is a fantastic and enriching experience. The first lesson of this month for one of the levels truly moved me: as usual, we asked the participants to present themselves so that we know a bit about each other before working together for the whole month. And totally unexpectedly the participants started to thank us for this opportunity – first one person, and than it continued on and on and we heard such warm-hearted messages that it made me feel serene. You know, I read a lot about the contribution to the community during this crisis and several times I felt sorry for not being able to do more as I do not speak the language and do not know more of the local customs, or simply more neighbours I could help. And at this moment I felt we are already doing our something, and perhaps it is the best what we can do, taking into account our linguistic skills and the true need for those conversation clubs – just as we heard from the participants.

I could also continue works on my project – Move YouthWise – with my great team. We are connecting on a monthly basis, and naturally nowadays we do it online – and it works so good that we are taking into account meeting online even after the corona-crisis, as this way more people can participate in the call without the need of commuting to the place of the meeting. We have calls via GoogleMeet, continue to keep in touch on WhatsApp and have started sharing thoughts on Padlet, which we are using to access all the materials from the previous meetings as well. To make activities on the call more participatory, I have been trying out Kahoot, Quizlet and Jamboard.

Connect & Exchange

Moreover, as many youthwork events were moved online, we both could benefit from them (normally, during the ESC project, you are not entitled to go on Training Courses as your stay, board and lodging is already being funded by the Erasmus+ programme and it is to prevent the “double funding” of those and make it available for the people who are not on another mobility at the same time: principle of inclusion). As such activities were moved online, the problem of double funding was gone and we could benefit from learning experience via online events. We both took part in a comforting and inspiring Grow to dream – European Volunteering in the times of COVID-19 WEB-Forum (https://www.facebook.com/CABUWAZI2020/), organised by berliner circus association Cabuwazi (https://cabuwazi.de/?lang=en). It was a place of learning how to cope with crisis and a meaningful exchange with other ESC volunteers, ESC coordinators, trainers and youthworkers concerned about the situation. Apart from feeling comforted – and truly connected with the online community, in spite of it being “only” a virtual exchange – I got to know a variety of new online tools, and for those I knew, I discovered to which extent one can use them (I have not been aware of the fact that a Padlet can be as developped and multi-level!) I had not imagined one can recreate the feeling of a conference coffee break online. Turns out, it is perfectly possible – and it really feels nearly the same! 🙂

Furthermore, earlier today I had a pleasure to take part in a Facebook Live event of Youth@Work Partnership (https://www.facebook.com/YouthAtWorkPartnership/). I have always found their events very inspirational (it is their 3rd event I could participate in, 1st one online). The session was meant to discuss Social economy and innovation in the post-COVID19 society (https://www.facebook.com/YouthAtWorkPartnership/videos/3301002526601389/) and brought insights from experts from Spain, Italy and Cyprus. The panelists underlined the fact that the young people who are themselves safe are looking for ways to contribute to overcoming the crisis, and that we should all as communities seek for solutions for people who are feeling the most excluded during the crisis – as the deprivileged ones, refugees or the elderly. The experts also gave examples on actions of social inclusion, not only during the crisis.

Share & Learn

Thanks to a briliant idea of a fellow volunteer from Ankara whom we met on the On-Arrival and Mid-Term trainings (both were discribed by Martyna in previous blog posts, feel free to find out more about those experiences of ours!), there is now a Facebook community of ESC volunteers sharing valuable online activities for the time of quarantine (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1073877666338959/). This way we learnt about an online course Euro-Mediterranean Intercultural Trends: A learning journey through the Anna Lindh Report “Intercultural Trends and Social Change in the Euro-Mediterranean region” (https://youtu.be/akBHTdm8mAs) and we embarked on this journey starting from this week. I am pleased to have the opportunity to gain such insights into South- and East-Mediterranean countries: thanks to living in Turkey, I got to know many people from countries such as Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco on various intercultural events and I discovered how much I enjoy spending time with them. If you ask yourself why Maghreb countries specifically, there is a simple reason for that: as I, sadly, do not know Arabic, for those countries we share another language in common: French. I am sure this online course will give me some theoretical basis to, who knows, maybe professional work for the region in the future?

Increase Self-Awareness & Get to Know Yourself Better

Spending a lot of time on “your own” is also an opportunity for deep-diving into yourself. I have to say that this month I am getting on with the current situation much better than the previous month. Maybe I just got used to it, or maybe I developed more self-awareness and resilience to the things I have no control over. All the things I described above for sure contributed a lot. What is more, connections with my beloved ones – friends and family also helped a lot to overcome anxiety, feel needed and simply share. I am deeply grateful for their presence in my life and thanks to more time spent at home I could connect with them more frequently. Besides that, I have also spend time reflecting on myself, the ways I am dealing with crisis and life in general. Thanks to one of my wonderful friends I could discover meditation and enhance my abilities to live in the present moment, without excessive fear of the future and more acceptance for what is going on.

And to finish this post let me reveal that as many people all over the world I started to learn how to bake homemade bread 😉 this week will be my third attempt and I hope that this time it will not only be edible, but also really tasty and looking nice. 😉

Online activities of a locked-down volunteer: a variety of learnings and encounters

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