“My Experience at the “Volunteering against Discrimination” training course in Bern”

Here is the voice of the volunteer Élise Brasseur who participated in the “Volunteering against Discrimination” training course in Köniz (Bern, Switzerland) between 14 and 20 February. Volunteers or staff in SCI who place (other) volunteers in volunteering camps had the opportunity to get to know all the practical procedures, the OPS online database, tips, tricks, possible challenges and good practices around that – as well as to get a better understanding of SCI as a movement and the possibilities of getting active in it and making it more inclusive.

I am truly grateful to have attended the “Volunteering against Discrimination” training course last February.

Before I get into what is behind these strange initials, let me give you a little more context.

I’m Elise, a Belgian currently living in Slovenia for over 6 months. The reason? I am doing a volunteer project funded by Europe, called ESC. I volunteer with the organization Zavod Voluntariat, the Slovenian branch of the Service Civil International (SCI).

In addition to its numerous projects, my organization organizes volunteer camps in Slovenia and sends volunteers on missions abroad. One of my current roles within the organization is that of a placement officer. My responsibility is to manage the applications of volunteers who want to participate in a volunteer camp in Slovenia or abroad through Zavod Voluntariat.

Until now, I have not had the opportunity to be operational in this role, as the workcamp season has not yet officially started. In order to prepare myself for what was coming, I had the opportunity to participate in the “Volunteering against Discrimination” training course, which took place in Bern, Switzerland.

Before the training started, I felt a little intimidated. Although I have participated in similar activities before, I was not sure what to expect from this specific training. In the end, everything went wonderfully well, and I am glad to have been part of it.

What exactly was the “Volunteering against Discrimination” training course?

It was a training that brought together 20 placement officers from all over the world, from Sri Lanka to Mexico, from the United States to Togo, from Nigeria to Italy, passing through France, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Tunisia…

This unique gathering took place over a week in Bern and was facilitated by two exceptional trainers, Sara and Thomas. They had prepared a rich and varied program for us.

We had various sessions. Some were to learn more about the SCI network, addressing its creation, values, ongoing and future projects. Other sessions were more practical, involving the learning of the software we use for volunteer placement, as well as many rules for visas and insurance. Finally, other sessions were designed to develop our reflection and critical thinking about our position, particularly addressing issues of discrimination and how to confront them.

Of course, our time was not only dedicated to work. There were also moments of relaxation. The idea was to meet the other placement officers with whom we will be working in the coming months and get to know each other a bit more.

To this end, every evening, we enjoyed activities organized by ourselves. We learned how to make poems and origamis, engaged in highly inspiring discussions, and laughed during games and a movie night. On a free afternoon, we also explored the city of Bern and its carnival. And above all, I believe everyone will remember the hike we took on the last day at 5:15 in the morning.

I will have fond memories of this training. I now feel calmer and more prepared for this workcamp season. If I need help, I know I can rely on this wonderful team of placement officers I met during this training.

Thanks to SCI Switzerland for hosting us, to our trainers for guiding us, to the fantastic participants, and to the volunteers from the kitchen team.

Élise BRASSEUR, ESC Volunteer at Zavod Voluntariat

This project was financially supported by Movetia. Movetia promotes exchange, mobility and cooperation within the fields of education, training and youth work – in Switzerland, Europe and worldwide.

You May Also Like…

Share This