ESC volunteering at Maailmanvaihto: a joint learning experience

This year, for the first time, a European Solidarity Corps volunteer joined the office team of Maailmanvaihto. The period was rewarding both for the volunteer Isa Hernandez and for the office team members, even though the corona time changed their joint plans.

Maailmanvaihto – ICYE Finland has been active in the field of international youth exchange in Finland since 1958, but normally our volunteers work elsewhere than at Maailmanvaihto’s office. This changed at the beginning of 2020, when Maailmanvaihto welcomed into its office team a young person for European Solidarity Corps Volunteering. The first volunteer of Maailmanvaihto’s office was Isa Hernandez who has a Costa Rican background. Isa previously traveled to Finland for ICYE volunteering and studied here after her volunteering year in the arts and media field.

The aim of hosting ESC volunteers at the Maailmanvaihto office is to offer the participants an opportunity for intercultural learning, while at the same time learning about the activities of a youth exchange organisation and media and communication work. The European Solidarity Corps volunteers enrich the organisational culture by bringing their knowledge, ideas, and perspectives of a young person.

ESC volunteer Isa Hernandez and communications officer Minna Räisänen at a table at the office of Maailmanvaihto.
ESC volunteer Isa and communications officer Minna at the office of Maailmanvaihto. In the photo above Isa and programme coordinator Mari.

In September, the volunteering period of the first ESC volunteer at the office came to an end. For Isa, being an ESC volunteer at Maailmanvaihto was a fulfilling job: “I got to use a lot of my skills and learned new ones. I liked how dynamic the work was. The load of work varied depending on the season. I recommend volunteering at Maailmanvaihto’s office to people who want to learn about the world of volunteering and primarily the NGO position.” During her volunteering period, Isa introduced the Maailmanvaihto Language Café: “It was very rewarding to create a space in which the members of the community could learn from each other.”

The co-operation plans which were made at the beginning of the year changed due to the coronavirus situation. For instance, the video shooting trips of Isa were canceled and the Langage Café went online soon after the first meetings. Despite the changes, the co-operation ended up very inspiring for Maailmanvaihto. “Isa’s input for Maailmanvaihto’s communication work was important from hosting first live broadcasts on Instagram and renewing the look of our advertisements on host family activities. She was also of great help for the office staff in learning online skills during a time in which more of Maailmanvaihto’s activities were taken online”, tells communications officer Minna Räisänen.

Maailmanvaihto has coordinated ESC volunteering in workplaces for years and we welcome new actors to join this joint learning experience, too. “Our own co-operation with Isa strengthened our view that an ESC co-operation offers valuable learning and new perspectives, both for the volunteer and for the voluntary workplace”, says programme coordinator Mari Takalo. Through Maailmanvaihto, voluntary workplaces can receive young adults for ESC volunteering for 6–12 months. Interested work communities can find further information on our website.

ESC volunteer Roos Freije in front of a table and a laptop at a balcony.
ESC volunteer Roos Freije worked from her quarantine-flat for the first two weeks.

Maaimanvaihto wants to thank Isa for her valuable support and we wish her all the best in the future and especially with the university master she just started. At the same time, the organisation welcomes a new ESC volunteer: Roos Freije, who traveled to Finland from the Netherlands. Also Roos will support the office team and she looks forward to work at Maailmanvaihto for the upcoming five months: “I am eager to help fulfill the aims of Maailmanvaihto, to learn more about working in a Finnish NGO and to make sure that both the current and future volunteers will have a life-changing experience, which they will cherish forever.”

Read also:
Young person, apply for ESC volunteering in Finland
Become a voluntary workplace for a young person from abroad