Volunteering at the International Office of the EYP: interview with Arda & Alex

The International Office of the EYP regularly offers volunteering experiences in the context of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) for young people who would like to support its work and gain professional insights into the operations of an international, peer-to-peer educational NGO. We asked our current volunteers Alex and Arda about their reasons to dedicate their time to long-term volunteering at the EYP Office.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Do you remember how you got involved in the EYP?

Alex: I’m Alexandra, but everyone’s calling me Alex,  Romanian by chance and a citizen of the world by choice. Ever since childhood, I knew I want to do something in the service of people. I came across EYP while in high school, by chance when I picked up a local newspaper featuring an article about the “presence” of the educational program in the city where I was living back then.  From the moment I read it, I knew I will be involved in the EYP.

Arda: My name is Arda. I am a 26 year old EYPer and I come from Turkey. After getting my degree in computer engineering, I found myself working for a mobile game startup in Istanbul and fast forwarding roughly a year, I quit and flew to Berlin for a year of volunteering service. Previously, I had been an organizer at an EYP event my school was hosting, and I was quite fascinated by what I experienced.

What is your motivation to do a volunteering year at the International Office of the EYP and what are you expecting to get from it?

Alex: It might sound a bit cliché, but the motivation behind volunteering a year with the EYP Office is the desire to give something back to the organisation that has given me so many wonderful friends, experiences and lessons. As my term is approaching an end, I can say that I’ve learned the ups and downs of being at the forefront of such a massive organisation, which is creating a lot of impact with little resources, and that there is definitely room for everyone to get involved and give back. I’ve also learned how passionate and dedicated everyone in the Office is, and not only! Having an overview bird’s eye on the whole network, I can wholeheartedly say that the active EYP’ers are working relentlessly to make this organization run as smooth as possible.

Arda: My main motivation to volunteer at the EYP Office comes from my belief in the project EYP and the network of people. This organisation thrives on a much-needed youth dialogue which then results in great collective creativity and a seamless learning curve for everyone involved. The EYP Office is like a hive for all this to work, happening throughout the year, and not only for a single event.

What do you work on and what do you enjoy about it? What skills does it help you to develop?

Alex: I work on the International Session’s portfolio together with the project manager in charge. What I enjoy the most is the concept behind it. Bringing together young people from all over Europe and creating something meaningful together with them, gives me so much thrill and hope for the future. Seeing young people who have been stirred through the EYP experience, I can confidently say that it gives them a much more tolerant and wider view on this good, old continent. Without a doubt, the EYP International Session portfolio is a very intense one, especially in the proximity of a session. There is always something to work on, it definitely hones your time management and working under pressure skills. You also learn that no matter how much work you put in, sometimes things just don’t go as expected. Nevertheless, it’s all worth it, especially when you see everyone coming together at the International Session, learning while having fun and making experiences that will change the face of Europe, in the long term.

Arda: I work in communications which plays a crucial role in strengthening the EYP network but also reaching out to a broader audience, to give insights into what the EYP project is about, the young people behind it, and the positive impact it has. Creating meaningful content by creating images, strategising and fine-tuning key messages is something I enjoy a lot. After 3 months into my programme, I can easily say I improved my skills regarding all this. I have also learned a lot about how the Schwarzkopf Foundation, the international umbrella organisation of the EYP, functions.

Is there a unique perspective you bring to the Office team in terms of background, experience, culture or education?

Alex: I believe that as a Romanian living in the Netherlands for the past 3 years, I developed a broader perspective on dealing with people and situations. However, the Office team is a fairly international one itself. I want to believe I brought a spark at least, for more digitalisation (e.g. introducing POS for payment processing, so we don’t have to deal with cash anymore when we sell merchandise or collect fees). And the reminder of ‘nothing for youth without youth’, to be applied at all times in the Office/Foundation as well.

Arda: Having involved in the network for many years in different positions, I believe I bring another fresh pair of eyes. Since I see my participation in EYP media teams and many years of experience in PR directory of my EYP national committee as the highlight of my EYP experience, I am aiming to help the Office to better leverage the work of the EYP events’ media team members who work so hard in a short time period and create amazing outputs.

Are there any other stories you would like to share?

Alex: As myself, an EYP’er with reduced mobility, and as part of the inclusivity approach that the EYP wants to foster, after finishing the work here at the Office, I would like to dedicate my time and skills to finding resources (money, people) and ideas on how can we reach to those young people that are the margins, not only in terms of financial means, but equally bright and with a lot of potential, so they too have the opportunities that we’re so lucky to have and that in the end will benefit us all as society. Therefore, I would like to use this opportunity to invite anyone who would be interested in this to contact me and see what we can do together.