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Sunday, 20 February 2011 09:22

No need to travel, the world is here!

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And why do you volunteer? The question reverberates around the conference room, like a challenge to those of us who still wonder why we're lucky enough to be sat in Budapest. For me I wonder, do I volunteer? Do I do enough? Was it for altruistic purposes or something more self centred? And if I did what was it that kept me going?

Frank, head of Citizens of Europe, is sat next to me and assures me that E&M counts as volunteering (no, we don't get paid!) and I suggest then that it was a central principle, core aims and questions we hold, that motivates the editors and many authors to spend their free hours producing the magazine. And of course the fact that we like each other! It seems to go down well with the volunteers and NGO representatives here, and the principle of association and belonging, if not personally, then through common ideas through the end of an internet cable is added to the list of reasons people keep volunteering.

In smaller groups we designed an advert for a local intercultural fair and focussed on how to deal with identity for participants – do you emphasise it in the hope of fostering understanding, or refuse to define people by these labels. It's a serious issue for cultural intergration in wider Europe, if not just for our imaginary event. We settled on both approaches, the first to be used for adults to tell their own cultural stories and the latter for children to focus on the similarities that their age brought them.

I was 'volunteered' (a term often used here...) for the task of presenting and selling the intercultural event under the catchy slogan of 'no need to travel, the world is here!' to passing participants who may want to volunteer. 

It was interesting to see that their questions to me focussed on two main concerns.-

  • How will they know whether their work is having an impact? 

  • Can I promise that they wont be sucked into working much more than originally wanted!?

Can you think of any more?

Photo: Matt sells volunteering to participants.

Matt, Sixth Sense Editor, is reporting live at the Open Forum weekend in Budapest, organised by Citizens of Europe.

Last modified on Thursday, 24 February 2011 18:22
Matt Shearman

Matt Shearman, Brain of E&M, is originally from Yorkshire, UK, but now lives in London, having arrived there via Berlin and Oxford. He holds an MSc in International Relations and is into E&M because he is fascinated by identity, nationality and transnationality. For more political commentary on Europe / Germany / international relations, follow him on twitter: @shearmanm

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