MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices 1/2022: Connections via International Volunteering

In this magazine

Read the pdf version of the magazine

4 Pääkirjoitus (on the Finnish site) | 5 Editorial
6 Kutsu kevätkokoukseen / Invitation to Spring Meeting
7 Kuulumisten vaihtoa / News from Maailmanvaihto
10 Tule mukaan toimintaan!
11 Tavoitteena ymmärrys (on the Finnish site)
12 Join our activities!
13 Greetings from abroad: From Finland to Iceland and from Egypt to Finland (on the Finnish site)
17 Connecting with the world and volunteers in Čadca
31 Tulevat tapahtumat / Upcoming events

Theme articles

20 Making connections beyond a shared language
22 Polkuja Treloar Trustiin
26 Dialogi ja avoimuus – avaimet onnistuneeseen vuorovaikutukseen (on the Finnish site)
28 Mi casa su casa (on the Finnish site)

Editorial: Dangerous Endeavours

Caution, volunteering abroad is a dangerous endeavour. During any single day of your volunteer period you might meet a person of whom you will come to think of fondly for years to come. You might even become lifelong friends. For some years now, I have been following from afar how my former pupils and volunteering colleagues have gone through various stages of their lives. At regular intervals I also receive email messages from the people I met during my volunteer period, and in the midst of exchanging news, we reminisce on shared moments and the various everyday adventures we encountered together. It is through these types of connections and ties that the links to your host country, its people, and culture often become permanent.

Above all, the volunteer work period consists of living a daily life in a wholly different environment. Intercultural encounters and living that different everyday life becomes a part of your personality in a way that leaves it almost impossible to distinguish what came before and what came after the experience. Life goes on after the volunteer period, but you keep on going back to those feelings, sometimes for years to come. Often the only antidote for chronic nostalgia is to seek out other people who have gone through the same experience. This is why many continue to pursue the path of internationalization and remain involved in organizations such as ICYE Finland, or even head out abroad again. Once you’ve lived a different everyday life and routine, it sticks with you and you crave for more.

A few years ago, I did my first internship – in the Department for Development Policy… of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs… yikes! Luckily my impression of the place formed into a positive one already in the interview, as after the interview I ended up chatting with the interviewers about the photo exhibition in the lobby. The photographs in the exhibition reminded me of my volunteering experience in the countryside of India. We ended up sharing some of our personal experiences, and I left the situation thinking to myself that these people are actually pretty similar globetrotters as I am, only a bit more experienced. It was great to see how my volunteering experience turned out to be the common factor that helped me succeed in the job interview.

I no longer even stop to wonder when connections linking back to my volunteer period pop up during the day in the most peculiar situations. My experiences from those days have simply become part of me. This is the reason why I believe volunteering abroad is dangerous business – you end up living with it for years to come.

Henkilön kasvokuva, taustalla aurinkoinen vuoristomaisema. A closeup photo of a person, in the background a sunny mountain view.

Sasu Katajamäki
Board member

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