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We considered calling it Engagement Volunteering – and we are still considering. Read on and hopefully you will understand why:
Social volunteering has to do with being social – but not in the In the sense of a social worker who takes care of children, elderly people and the sick. Nothing wrong with that though. It just has nothing (or very little) to do with our social volunteering program.
What to do then?
Initiating activities related to the Hostelling International mission and assuming the role as originator and “the one who presses the start button” are typical tasks of the social volunteer. The social volunteer initiates and participates in activities such as: excursions, sports, games, quizzes, barbecue, cultural kitchen, talk, hikes, fishing, sightseeing, coffee and cookies, waffle baking, music – all in the name of cultural exchange and bringing people together. That’s what it’s about.
But most important is perhaps coffee and cookies in the afternoon. Not because of the free coffee, but because this is where and when the social volunteer by virtue of his/her presence is able to press the conversations start button. This is when the guests in the living room let go of their books and laptops and begin to communicate. Now we hear stories about the rivers in Bosnia only surpassed by those in France – according to the French. Now we are told why the tax system in Germany is preferable to that of Scotland. And it was while drinking coffee a boy from Australia told the Norwegians and Danes about the history of the Vikings. Coffee and cookies make a perfect platform for spontaneous agreements on joint barbecue next day, hiking, playing games – or going to town the very same evening. That’s the true meaning of HI life and The Hostelling Experience.
The volunteer program enables volunteers to get involved in the activities of the hostel as well as put forward suggestions for development of new ideas to expand and realize the organizational goals.