My experiences as a volunteer
How are you doing?
I hope there’s a happy face reading this blog-post. Even though I would understand that you feel sleepy after all these
Like I promised in my last post I will tell something more about my participation in different projects. Most of the projects are totally new for me, so I’m learning every day. This is positive because I believe in the process of ‘lifelong learning’*. shortening days and this dark grey weather. At least I do feel tired sometimes
In this post I will explain my work in the youth houses and my co-operation in the Hanaa project of Tatu Ry. My experiences of working in other projects will be explained in one of my next blog posts.
*lifelong learning means that the process of learning doesn’t stop after going to school. Every day there are new opportunities to learn new things. Even when you are old you can learn new things. For example: a grandmother who learned from her grandchildren how to use a smartphone.
Working in a Youth house
Most of my volunteering time goes to working in youth house Rytö and youth house Latari. In both of the houses I feel myself ‘at home’ now. The youth workers help me to understand how the youth houses in Finland work.
In Belgium we have places that we call ‘youth house’ (‘jeugdhuis’ in Dutch), but they are very different from the youth houses here. Let me explain what I already learned about similarities and differences:
- Youth houses in Finland are organised by the cities. Youngsters can come to the place and hang around with friends. Going to the youth house is free of charge. Youth workers are opening the place and you can talk to them about a variety of things.
In Belgium the youth houses are mostly organised by young people themselves. Sometimes there is a worker who helps organising, but most of the people who keep the place open are (young) volunteers. Drinks and food are mostly not for free.
2. Youth houses in Finland have several rules to keep the environment save for everyone. Those rules include that you can’t smoke and use drugs or alcohol in and around the house.
In Belgium there are less ‘house rules’. Since drugs is illegal, it is also forbidden in the youth house. Alcohol is allowed for youngsters who have the right age according the law. To youngsters this might seem fun but I think that this makes the environment less save at the same time. Furthermore, I am convinced that some people don’t find the space to be themselves anymore.
3. Another difference is the age-range for the youngsters who are allowed to go to the open youth house. In Finland children and youngsters can mostly visit the youth house when they are between 6 and 18 years old. In Belgium the age for going to the youth house mostly starts at +/- 16 years until …
4. One important element that is similar to youth houses in Belgium is the focus on FRIENDSHIP. The youth house is a place where you gather with your friends for different reasons. You can play games together, sport together, cook together, but most of the time just chill together and hang in the couch. The youth houses give you a place to make the bond with friends stronger, or to make new connections with other youngsters.
My participation in the Hanaa project of Tatu Ry
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I learned a lot about inclusion en diversity in my studies educational sciences. Because of that it was interesting for me to be involved in the Hanaa project.
Hanaa is a group of youngsters with very different disabilities. They come together to take part in an activity. The activities differ from time to time, but are based on the interests of the youngsters. For example: we took part in a relaxing activity, we went to a virtual reality world, we danced in a disco, etc.
Tatu ry is one of the projects that will give me a lot of learning opportunities. This group of youngsters show me that it is not necessary to categorise people because of their disability. The kind of disability doesn’t stand in the way of making new and strong friendships. Every individual is accepted for the person he or she is. This is one of the reasons why I felt immediately comfortable in the group as well.
I hope that during the next week I can help in planning activities for this amazing group of youngsters!
See you in the next blog post! X