2011 is considered, by the European Commission, The European Year of Volunteering. I interviewed a volunteer, Adrian Vaşnic. He became a volunteer three years ago. He is a trainer and believes that together we can change the world.
I know that you have a payed job, so why did you choose to become a volunteer?
I think that the volunteer is the person who can change something around him, who can stimulate others – to involve themselves in activities, to take attitude and to do big things. The most important for a volunteer is to be proactive. Also he has to make a decision before things happen, he should have initiative, ambition and he should take the responsibilities.
How did you begin to do volunteering?
In 2006 I found one opportunity to travel abroad and then I understood for the first time in my life what civil society, NGO-os and volunteering are. When I came back in my country I joined an organization. In 2007 I did my first project with external financial support. That was the time when I saw people who want to involve in projects, who want to do something with their life. I concluded that I can also do things. I liked to be a volunteer; I understood that it is not necessary to be paid as long as you do what you like. If there is the possibility for somebody to join you, then we will be a group of volunteers and this is way better than being alone.
What can a person get by doing volunteer work?
First of all, I changed my attitude about the things around me; I learned to be more communicative. By volunteering I developed all my skills, because I was involved in a lot of kind of projects. Each project was about different subjects - fine arts, ecology, culture, artistic life, even about general culture. I practiced foreign languages, I developed my organizational skills, I learned what it’s mean-time management and deadline, I learned what is team work and how to coordinate a team, what it does it mean to be a trainer and how to help other people develop themselves. Actually, because I am a volunteer and I am involved in an organization, I could practice, without big expenses, different areas, from being an ecologist – until being a journalist, a photographer or a trainer.
A lot of youngsters motivate their non-involvement in volunteering activities because you cannot earn money. So how can you live by being a volunteer?
By being a volunteer you can build a background, your own history and get a lot of experience by coordinating projects or organizing different events. And once you are in a strong organization, you have the chance to do accounting for a salary. In small projects, you have the accommodation and food for free, sometimes even the transport. Like this your activity is paid. You cannot consider it like a salary or profit, but your costs are paid. It is practically an economy which you do only by volunteering. Of course nothing can be compared with a experience in which you go one week with some friends, who are your colleagues by volunteering and with who you can go and to party without any worries, without thinking that you have to spend money and that you have to pay for everything. You work and have fun at the same time. It’s not like the regular stressful job where you have to work until the end of the day, get home very tired and have only one joy - the end of the week salary. Volunteering doesn’t add money in your pocket, but it gives you daily satisfaction and after a week of project you go home with more energy and with a smile on your face.
How do you see the involvement of Romanian state in the volunteering process?
I know there is a law of the volunteering, but it is not recognized yet, like a professional experience, by all the people; but instead they work at this. I participated to some conferences; I contributed with some ideas to some projects regarding volunteering. At the moment they try to introduce one certificate like youth pass, one European certificate, which can recognize the acquired competences of the young volunteers and which can be accepted like formal tool by employer and by education institutions. Practically the volunteering activity could be considered as years of experience length of works and studies.
How do you see volunteering in 10 years?
If I look at the western countries, in France I noticed that the share of young volunteers in the great mass of volunteers is lower. Romania has now a young volunteering, but France, to make a comparison with developed countries, there the seniors are they who are involved in volunteering activities. I like to believe that in Romania we will not fall in this trap. I want to believe that the youngsters will keep energy and the wish to be volunteers. I think that in 10 years there will be an associative environment in which volunteers will be able to develop activities. It will be sufficiently developed and the volunteering will be recognized. I think in over 10 years there it will be a sufficiently large number of NGOs that will have a clear mission and they will know exactly what they want to do in society. About young volunteers they will have a good education plan for personal development. NGO-s have to help young people to contribute, to support development. You can develop the community by developing your personality first.
Can you say tree things which should be improved in Romanian volunteering?
I have heard a lot of young volunteers saying that they participated in one organization like volunteers, but they were used like workforce unpaid and also they told that doesn’t exist valuation of works. In this case I propose that every organization should have, because they are working with the volunteers, one plan for developing them. It is a special management course of volunteers through the people who are working in volunteering activities can contribute with a clear strategy for developing the volunteers, to give them the opportunity to experimentate, to obtain skils, abilities and to practice the attitude. And then I think if they elaborate this kind of strategies for developing the volunteers – it will be a plus for both the organization and for the volunteer, and after that for the society.
What was your best volunteering experience?
My best experience as a volunteer is that I learned to be a trainer; I learned to freely speak to a lot of people - thing that once seemed impossible to me. The projects that I got involved in gave me the possibility to stand up from my chair and to have courage to speak to people. So i have learned to win the shyness, I’ve learned what it is diction and communication. I’ve learned what it is sincerity and to have courage to say what you feel; and don’t be afraid to recognize that you are weak when you are or the contrary to assert yourself when you are strong. Volunteering develops leaders.