Throughout the year of your European Solidarity Corps volunteering, you can (and should) take part in trainings that are organized by the national agency. Quite in the beginning there’s an on-arrival training and when approaching the second half of your stay abroad you get invited to the midterm training. In those trainings you learn about formal things concerning the European Solidarity Corps program, your rights and responsibilities and also how to deal with conflicts and cultural differences during the project. However, its best aspect is meeting other volunteers that chose a project in the same country as you. It’s great to spend time with people that share similar experiences with you.
Finally back in Stockholm!
We arrived in Stockholm around noon on the 23rd of March 2022 and like the last one, the training started off with lunch at the Bromma folkhögskola (only that we didn’t miss the lunch this time). And at this point I have to say that the food there was always so delicious (it was our number one topic on the train ride) and it’s so great that for every meal they also had a vegan option!
It was nice to see almost all the people from the on-arrival training again, especially because we all get along so well with each other. One reason for this is probably that we have a lot in common – like choosing to spend several months volunteering abroad, similar mindsets and values or just being open minded and ready to meet new people.
Three days full of joyful moments, deep conversations and fun
On the first afternoon we had a short introduction and a question-round about everyone’s childhood idol (which was quite amusing). Then we had to talk in small groups about our experiences in Sweden so far and about differences to our home countries. After that we could start preparing our presentations about our projects which we had to present to the Swedish national agency MUCF (Myndigheten för ungdoms- och civilsamhällesfrågor) the next day.
We started the second day with small group exercises where we had to talk about challenges that occurred during our projects and later about competencies that we thought we had acquired so far. Afterwards we received some information about the Youthpass (a tool to record your learning progress, your competencies and what you achieved).
Throughout the whole afternoon we proceeded with presenting our projects to members of the MUCF and to the other volunteers. It was interesting to hear detailed summaries of everyone’s projects, their tasks, their personal experiences and their feelings towards it. In sum this took more than three hours, but before it could start to feel exhausting, we had fika.
That evening after we arrived at the hotel, we met up in one volunteer’s room to record an episode for a podcast of two volunteers from Åmål as they wanted to interview some others. It was such a great idea and so much fun doing that.
In general, we spent a lot of our free time together – we used the breaks for conversations or walks in nature around the folkhögskola and the evenings we spent together on the rooftop-terrace of the hotel or in a bar close by. So we really appreciated having both our trainings in person and not just online.
On our third (and last) day we were told to write down our goals for the remaining time in Sweden and how we plan to achieve them. I really enjoyed doing this task because it’s useful and necessary to think about your own goals as it supports personal growth.
The training was supposed to last until 3pm but because there was a global climate strike in Stockholm, we were allowed to leave after lunch so we could go there and join it. And guess what, we saw Greta Thunberg (again).
You’ll gain new experiences, memories and inspiration
After the training most of the volunteers stayed in Stockholm over the weekend. We spent some time together and explored the city a bit more, went shopping or out to eat. For me, meeting the other volunteers was for sure one of the highlights over those few days.
To sum up, those trainings were great because they gave us the opportunity to build friendships with other young people from all over Europe. Besides it was always a lot of fun and what I took from it is great memories and new inspiration.
If you’re also doing an ESC voluntary service or planning to, I can only recommend you to take those trainings seriously, use your time there to socialize and to enjoy it as much as possible!