Global Volunteer Action Opening Seminar

Global Volunteer Action Opening Seminar; Volunteering in the 21st Century in Asia, was held in Sydney, Australia from 22-27 June 2015. This global project from SCI focuses on youth volunteering in Europe and Asia. Since youth and voluntary service organizations face a variety of challenges, the project aims to find a common space where they can be shared and discussed, a space that will provide and create common solutions.
This program consisted of 2 days of seminar and 2.5 days focused on capacity building and strategic planning. Co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union, it also provided opportunity for members of the IEC and representatives of 9 Asian branches to reflect on the role and organisation of volunteering today.

On the first day, we started with ice-breaking sessions, energisers and true to SCI spirit, we had fun and got to know each other better, for some, meeting for the first time! Expectations on the seminar were also shared by the participants. Francesco Volpini ex-Director CCIVS was the first speaker, he gave informative statistics and research findings relating to volunteering globally and the Asia Pacific region specifically. He also shared how this information can be used for our strategic planning in the future. Renjani from IVP Indonesia gave a presentation about Creative Advocacy with interesting videos and slides; it definitely stimulated some creative juices among the participants. Thi Phuc Do shared information on the structure of NVDA and its activities. New comers had a special session too, thanks to Minerva Jormola for sharing information about SCI in general.
IVP Australia had organized a public debate on International volunteering in a rapidly changing society in conjunction with this Global Volunteer Action seminar. This debate was an eye opener for all of us where 7 experienced speakers shared their views, experiences and research findings with the participants. The sessions saw active participation from the floor and lots of feedback was gathered. We left with positive learning points, new ideas to ponder and mind-provoking statements. Branches were given the chance to display information and posters/photos of their activities to be shared with others at the venue. We also took the opportunity to visit the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy nearby to understand more on the situation and struggle of the evicted Aboriginals for low-cost accommodation at the area.
The remaining days of the seminar were focused on capacity building and strategic planning among branches particularly to strengthen Europe-Asia and Asia-Asia exchanges. Having said that, we did have a few sessions whereby Rita Sofea and Stephen Horn from IVP Australia gave an overview of their branch and the amazing work they have done, while Jimmy Kovacs explained the structure of IEC and gave a presentation on the GAIA micro-grant funding opportunities. Beware GAIA Microgrants Team! Expect many applications on the way!
At the end of the seminar, a few plans of action (PoA) were finalised and agreed by all participants. This came about after many sessions of deliberating, discussing, dialogue and best practise sharing but all in the spirit of betterment for all branches. We are all committed to improve networking, communication and cooperation among SCI branches and partners in Europe and Asia. Some of the PoA are like contents of KA2, bilateral cooperation among branches/partners, more visibility for Asian branches in the form of more materials and streamlined publications.
Last but not least, 15 of us joined the post-seminar cultural tour in Taralga, a small village in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Stephen Horn was our very gracious host and welcomed us to his old stone farm house dating back to 1830s, imagine that! The cultural tour was simply wonderful; we learnt about the rich history of Taralga, associated with early settlement, the importance IVP’s Stonequarry woodland regeneration project, heritage values of the village cemetery, the town museum, and to top it all off, there were kangaroos hopping freely everywhere!
One last note, we sincerely appreciate all the efforts made by the Global Volunteer Action Opening Seminar prep team and IVP Australia who made this seminar an amazing experience for all the participants. Just like they say it in Australia, Cheers mate! :)
Article by Edward Chuah
Photos by Stephen Nah