From 5th to 7th December 2011 the Polish National Agency of the Youth in Action Programme together with the SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus Resource Centre invited stakeholders of international volunteering in Eastern Europe and Caucaus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russian Federation and Ukraine) to „Eastern Dimension of Volunteering” Forum in Warsaw to share their experience and to discuss together their challenges and opportunities.
Analysing current practice and resources of different programmes of international volunteering available for beneficiaries from Eastern Europe and Caucasus, the topic of the Forum and its programme were mainly dedicated to the International Volunteer Day and as a result they were focused on the following issues:
- Reflecting and discussing different understandings of the international volunteering
- Exploring the impact of the international volunteering on the different stakeholders involved
- Highlighting challenges for international volunteering specific for the region of the Eastern Europe and Caucasus
- Defining the opportunities of development of international volunteering in Eastern Europe and Caucasus region
Participants discussed the reasons for becoming a volunteer, differences between international and national volunteering, local impact of these programmes and criteria of successful projects. There was also a very fruitful discussion about international professional volunteering during which participants tried to determine who can be a professional volunteer, which experiences and practice he/she has to pass on to future generations of volunteers.
It was agreed that nowadays many young people search for personal development through volunteering as main opportunities, possible to get by being a volunteer, are positive experiences, networking, teamwork and new knowledge.
Eastern Partnership Project was presented to participants during the panel discussion devoted to Eastern Partnership and Youth. General impression from the project was positive, supported by representatives from European Commission and other European NGOs.
Representative from EU-CoE youth partnership programme Marta Mędlinska presented report on research of youth volunteering and youth work in Eastern Europe and Caucasus countries. She concluded that youth work is largely unrecognized and undefined in these countries, and that there is an essential lack of youth research and great variation between countries in terms of legislation on youth.
Sophie Lemel and Rita Mockute from EACEA (European Commission) provided a lot of information about Eastern Partnership Youth Window and claimed for more applications, since in 2012 the European Commission is going to distribute unprecedented amount of money to finance exchanges with Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (EEAC) countries, which will be allocated from the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI).
Final word and official closure of the forum was given by Tomasz Bratek, Head of the Polish National Agency of the Youth in Action Programme, with hope that results of the forum will inspire the participants to take up new challenges and work for the sake of young people.
Interested in our topic? Find out more in the Eastern Partnership Project Newsletter:http://www.intranet.aegee.org/group_file/view/18158/2938
Written by Daryna Skryl, Eastern Partnership Project