Marta’s Story as an ESC Trainee – An Opportunity to Continue Broadening your Horizon after volunteering

Marta Melendez Ortega is one of the young people who have participated in the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) Volunteering through Maailmanvaihto. Marta’s story is a unique one: After a year as an ESC volunteer, Marta was still eager to develop relevant skills and to continue the learning experience in Finland. So, Marta applied through Maailmanvaihto for a new ESC opportunity: being an ESC trainee. Now Marta is the first young person who participates in the ESC traineeship, coordinated by Maailmanvaihto!

The ESC traineeship is a rather new opportunity for young people. The aim is to support young people in gaining work experience and intercultural competences in order to benefit their future career possibilities. This international traineeship can widen the understanding of global issues, cultures, and solidarity, for instance. Besides supporting young people, the traineeship aims at supporting the vitality of the participating organizations.

Continuing co-operating with Kisälli-Harjulanmäki

In September 2020, Marta started as an ESC trainee at Kisälli-Harjulanmäki, right after finishing a European Solidarity Corps Volunteering period there earlier in September: “During my volunteering year, I was very happy with working with Kisälli-Harjulanmäki. The whole of Kisälli-Harjulanmäki is really passionate about the project they carry out and they dedicate a lot of effort to create an environment of personal, social, and creative development for all the clients, workers, and volunteers.”

Kisälli-Harjulanmäki is located in Vihti, a town situated about fifty kilometers away from Helsinki. Kisälli-Harjulanmäki is an organization that provides people with intellectual disabilities support in their personal, professional, educational, physical, emotional, and communicative development through art and working together. It is carried out via workshops where artistic projects are made that seek the discovery and development of their skills, and the learning of new ones.

Three people in front of a door in which text Maailmanvaihto. From left: Mauri Pajunen, Marta Melendez Ortega and Mari Takalo.


Kisälli-Harjulanmäki has already been working together with Maailmanvaihto for a long time, but this ESC traineeship is a new addition to our successful co-operation. The director of Kisälli-Harjulanmäki and Marta’s mentor, Mauri Pajunen further explains: “We thought that it would be interesting to use the opportunity of an ESC trainee and to continue the co-operation in this context with Marta – the co-operation which has worked so well!”

When Marta had the chance to continue working with Kisälli-Harjulanmäki, Marta seized this opportunity with both hands: “I am a teacher by profession. Kisälli-Harjulanmäki is a really beautiful place where I can develop also professionally. I knew that with Mauri at the helm, and together with the rest of the team, I would always be very well supported. I have meetings with my mentor about my development on a regular basis. I am learning new teaching techniques and I have more responsibilities in the organization, which is very useful for my career path. I am super lucky with this opportunity!”, Marta tells.

Expanding skills and knowledge through the ESC traineeship

Marta explains that the ESC traineeship opens more opportunities for the future: “My studies to become a teacher included general aspects of education for people who have some type of intellectual disability. Through this project, I have been able to broaden my vision and have a more understanding of this. Thanks to the experience here, I can improve my skills in this direction in the future.”

“I have also discovered new ways of learning and working at Kisälli-Harjulanmäki. They differ much from those which I have learned in Spain. At Kisälli-Harjulanmäki the participants of the workshops have the freedom to develop themselves at their own pace. They are approached as individuals, taking into account their individual needs and skills, without comparing them to each other. I will take this valuable perspective with me to Spain”, Marta explains.

According to Marta the difference between the ESC volunteering experience and the ESC traineeship is Marta’s involvement in the organizational part and having more responsibilities. Both ESC volunteering and the ESC traineeship comes with the benefits of the European Solidarity Corps: “Besides the daily learning experiences at Kisälli-Harjulanmäki, this traineeship offers me an opportunity to keep discovering the Finnish culture, and through Maailmanvaihto I still have the chance to easily meet new people from every corner of the world. I still enjoy all the creative and social parts in the same way as to when I was an ESC volunteer”, Marta tells.

Sharing working methods and approaches during the traineeship is highly beneficial for the participants as well as the participating organizations. Mauri Pajunen from Kisälli-Harjulanmäki would recommend the ESC traineeship to other organizations: “There is a lot of potential with the young volunteers and interns. I see the ESC traineeship as a continuation for the ESC volunteer year.”

The photo on top: In Kisälli-Harjulanmäki ESC trainee Marta Marta Melendez Ortega (left) has got to participate in inspiring artistic co-operation with the participants of Kisälli’s workshops. In the left photo Artturi Holm, a participant of the workshops, painting.

European Solidarity Corps Traineeships through Maailmanvaihto

Maailmanvaihto has begun to coordinate European Solidarity Corps Traineeship periods of young people in Finland as well as to send young people abroad from Finland for ESC Traineeships. In a project of three-year project which began in 2020, three young people will arrive in Finland for ESC Traineeships coordinated by Maailmanvaihto and two young people will head abroad for an ESC Traineeship sent by our NGO.

We gladly plan new traineeship co-operations for the future! We will be happy to tell more about the ESC Traineeship for those organizations interested in receiving a trainee as well as for those young people interested in participating in it.

Please, contact us for further information: Programme Coordinator Mari Takalo:, 044 318 0888. Further information is also available at the website of the Finnish National Agency for Education (in Finnish).

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