Pick a word, share a memory! Volunteers and voluntary workplaces of Maailmanvaihto share their memories on volunteering in Finland for for 6–12 months.
”While working in a primary school I have discovered how easily one can use the powers of smiling. Just this helps to make the atmosphere more comfortable and increases the motivation of everyone.” – Leonard Willen from Germany volunteers in a school in Finland
”When I started volunteering I had many questions in my mind about the Finnish culture and people. During the voluntary year I have learned many things about living in Finland. Some of them I have found surprising. I have got to know sauna, rye bread, winter, summer, the Northern lights, Lapland, food habits, the Finnish societal system, schools and working life.” – Venkateswarlu Banda from India volunteers in a vocational college in Finland
”I have learned about a different culture and the behavior of people. I have grown stronger and more confident and also learned to be more flexible. I have learned activities and ways to survive in different weathers: skiing, skating, cutting firewood and making fences for horses, for instance. I have learned how to help myself with what I have learned during the year.” – Suen Jie Ji from Taiwan volunteers in a folk high school in Finland
”I am learning about the Finnish language, traditions, culture and education system. Through working with people with different kinds of cultural backgrounds and behaviors I am learning also patience and communication skills. I see a change in myself. I am exchanging my views with the Finnish people. – Jibran Hussain Mohammad from India volunteers in a folk high school in Finland
”By getting to know new people and building friendships during my volunteering year abroad I have discovered many new things that I’m actually interested in and that I really like. These new interests have inspired me to start a new hobby as soon as I’m back home.” – Michelle Brockmann from Germany volunteers in a school in Finland
”It has been good to learn how to teach and support disabled people. It has also been good to learn about the Finnish cultural environment and teach my culture to the students as well as to give my solidarity to people who really need it.” – Sheila Daude from Mozambique volunteers in a folk high school in Finland
”I got my first volunteer three years ago. The volunteers have given me and my students so many opportunities to understand different cultures and ways of life. Nowadays the volunteer is a very important part of my class, and the co-operation has changed my perspective on how to teach. Now I have a friend in India, Japan and Mozambique and I am looking forward to making friends with the future volunteers, too!” – special education teacher Matias Hynynen mentors volunteers at folk high school Laajasalon opisto
”Volunteering in Finland has somehow helped me to find my inner peace by working with animals, spending a lot of time outside and living a life without too many stressful situations and responsibilities.” – Isabel Naumann from Germany volunteers in a domestic farm and youth center.
”Finnish language has a very special pronunciation and sounds such as y, ö and ä. In the beginning I concentrated in saying the words carefully and repeated them many times. I tried to learn complicated words very well. Finnish language skills are often emphasized as a key factor in adapting into the Finnish society, so now I’m trying hard to learn the language.” – Ganesh Mahato from Nepal volunteers in a school in Finland.
”Working together with foreign volunteers has given our community courage as well as openness to meet and co-operate with people with different kinds of cultural backgrounds. We also have gained interest to get to know different cultures more deeply. On the other hand, the co-operation has deepened our understanding on people being the same in many aspects regardless of their cultural background. We all have joys and sorrows, often quite similar ones.” – Tuija Lindberg, director of Sippola Residential School
“I am so grateful for being in such a beautiful country with all this incredible nature and people. ICYE voluntary work program has been so nice with so many different experiences. Thank you.” – Tiago Lemos from Brazil volunteers in a folk high school in Finland
”Volunteering has been a good opportunity to get to know cultures. I have learned about Finland and my home country as well as Afghanistan since I worked among students with an immigrant background. It has been an opportunity to make a lot of friends. They’re like a family to me. Volunteering has also been a good opportunity to find myself.” – Emika Fuchigami from Japan volunteers in a folk high school in Finland.
“I met Outi on my first day at the playschool. Her smile was the best welcome! She has taught me a lot of things, above all that my mobility experience has been successful thanks to our mutual understanding! I have learned from her that teaching children is based on listening to them and acting in the best way to help them. We have understood each other even without speaking the same language. We have also laughed a lot talking about our experiences abroad: sometimes cultural differences have made understanding more challenging but much more rewarding, though! I hope we will keep on learning in the future! Kiitos paljon Outi!” – Elena Frías Migueláñez from Spain volunteers in the English playschool of Kangasala
“Communication has been very easy with Elena. She is super positive and very open to new experiences and has a sense of humor. We deeply trust each other and we have shared our experiences together – these kinds of experiences abroad really open your eyes! Elena has made me more aware of my own culture and has made me think about education even more deeply. She has helped me a lot, and I think it is amazing how well you can understand each other even without a common language! I have learned so much during this year. I owe you really big thanks Elena, I will never forget you.” – Outi Lehtonen mentors Elena in the English playschool of Kangasala
“Olin vapaaehtoinen ’92-’93. I worked as a volunteer at Ilmatieteen laitos in Helsinki and on a farm further north in Tuusniemi. My year was amazing. I made lifelong friendships, expanded my family (two brothers, three sisters, two different families), expanded my understanding of the world around me, expanded my cultural experiences, expanded my language abilities, expanded my empathy, expanded my interest in travel. 24 years later and I still think about that year and how it affected me. To date, that has been the most impactful year of my life. Kiitos!” – John Evans from the United States
“Our foreign volunteers have enriched our working environment by bringing into it their cultural experiences and views. It has been especially motivating to get to know the Spanish and Italian food culture and to prepare meals together with our students.” – Mikko Salmi and Leena Tiitinen work at Seurakuntaopisto (The Church Training College)
“Hello and greetings to all volunteers! My word is passion. Passion leads you to volunteer in a good and high level as well as to develop yourself – on the one hand as a person and on the other hand as a professional or a future professional. Passion also combines so many words as learning, respect, discovering and many others words which can describe your dedication to be a volunteer and a good person. Passion of doing work well leaded me to develop further my open-mindedness and flexibility, and now I am happy to share the nicest and biggest experiences of my life! Join in a volunteer community where you will build friendships, partnerships and many other good things!” – Masha Gurcova from Moldova volunteered in 2010–11 in a nursing home for mentally disabled people and a workshop called which provides art and work therapy for disabled people in Finland.
The photo campaign is a part of the project ”Calling Youth to Action in a Global Visibility Drive” (Erasmus+ Key Action 2) which aims to promote the value of volunteering in terms of benefits to the volunteers and host organisations: www.icye.org/calling-youth
Would you be interested in volunteering in Finland for 6–12 months? Learn about the volunteering possibilities from here. All the voluntary work periods aim at advancing intercultural understanding.