Volunteer meet-up in Berlin: finally face-to-face with vostel!
my Benedetta Caputi & Isabella McNeill
It is no secret that our volunteers are the core of the vostel community. It was therefore exciting and rewarding for us to host a meet-up that gave us the chance to finally meet them, to exchange experiences, share stories, develop new ideas and last but not least, make new friends.
The subject of the meet-up was how to better include newcomers in local communities. For that reason, we wanted to give both information on how people can get involved in existing projects dedicated to refugees (we prefer the term „newcomers“!) as well as on how to start an own project in order to improve the lives of newcomers in Berlin. Moreover, we were eager to make everyone feel important and that every little thing done can really make a change in the life of a person in need.
Since it was our very first meet up we really didn’t know how successful we would be bringing the vostel community from a digital platform to “the real world”. We were super thrilled to see the whole area filling up by our community all live and in colour.
From the beginning, it was clear from everyone’s face that all the people taking part in the event wanted to learn, contribute and really make an impact. The positive energy was glowing across the room as new ideas were exchanged and formed. Although most participants did not know each other prior to the event, the environment became immediately cozy and friendly.
The ice-breaker game at the beginning was a great introduction, but surely enough the merit for the general success of the event goes to YOU – the vostel community. Everyone had the opportunity to share their personal thoughts, ideas and experiences and anyone who had doubts or questions was able to freely ask without any kind of awe or judgment. There was a deep and mutual understanding that we all believed in. This is what allows to make a better community through small steps in the hope of creating a bigger meaning.
“If you do it with your heart – that is all that matters, believe in yourself and just do it, and together we can achieve something wonderful” was one of the encouraging lines shared by Martin, project responsible for Pass the Crayon.
The message was clear: Every idea that can make a difference by helping and encountering people should be embraced and lived to its full potential! Pass the Crayon is one of the best examples of this. The founder Martin and his team give an opportunity for newcomer kids to enter into contact with art and artists through workshops that take place in a friendly and safe environment. His presentation was entirely filled with empathy and intimacy. His eyes were probably even saying more than his words. Despite a bit of shyness for speaking in public, Martin showed us all the challenges he had to deal with in order to make his idea spin to reality. He taught us the importance of passion and commitment in order to achieve personal goals and in order to be part of the change. A change that is only possible with deep involvement and fondness. Hence, that intimate involvement is essential for achieving personal objectives and valuable outcomes for ideas and future projects.
To top it all, the participants spontaneously grouped together to discuss their ideas and thoughts. It was incredible to see the vibrant diversity of perspectives and ideas based on different cultures, together with the common interest to be part of the change. Everything was beyond our expectations! Among everyone who took part in the event, we will never forget the willingness to help that Natalie and Matt, two emerging musicians from Australia, had. They arrived in Berlin just some days before the vostel meet-up and they were looking for opportunities to get voluntarily engaged with refugees and music. And now, they have finally found what they were seeking: just a week after of the vostel meet-up, they went to play to a kids’ festival organised by Volkssolidarität e.V., making all the participants have a great and enjoyable time. Now they are planning to do the same in different shelters on a regular basis, while mixing several music formats, from women’s choirs to music for children.
This is exactly what we hoped to achieve when we decided to organise our first meet-up: get people together, make ideas proliferate and give people the possibility to implement their own projects in organisations that are constantly looking for engaged volunteers.
We believe this face-to-face meet up proved exactly what the vostel community is all about. Now we are really looking forward the next event. It is going to take place on the 13th of July, this time giving you the possibility to get to know volunteering projects as well as possibility to get involved on a short- and long-term basis.
We really cannot wait for this to happen, in order to see you all there, for the first or second time 🙂