|European integration is not just about
the EU, and building Europe requires more than just political and economic interaction between states. School exchanges, Interrail,
the UEFA Champions League all brought Europeans closer together (although we draw a line at the Eurovision Song Contest).
Granted, the Eurozone crisis serves as a painful reminder how politics at EU level could go wrong, but despite the negative
developments of the past years, a lot of positive achievements transformed the lives of Europeans. Passport controls and visa
restrictions continue to be lifted, and people from across the continent now interact with one another - whether at work,
or on holidays – in ways that just a generation ago seemed difficult to imagine. But allot still needs to be done in
order to establish Europe as a geographical entity without physical borders and mental barriers.
Experiencing Europe, for instance spending a weekend in Rome, sipping Belgian beer, or supporting an English football
team now seem the norm, but getting to know fellow Europeans beyond these mass-cultural confines still might be a rare occasion.
EPIC therefore aims to offer young people the chance to experience a different European culture first hand; not by promoting
places that lie on the beaten track, but by offering work placements in locations that at first might not automatically spring
to mind. People from Western Europe might be familiar
with Paris, Berlin, the Canary Islands and further afield even Thailand, the US or the Caribbean. But knowledge and experience
of the eastern and south-eastern periphery of Europe is hard to come by. EPIC therefore believes that the establishment of
a network of voluntary work schemes would greatly support the ideal of European integration; not through the European Union,
not through working with businesses and governmental officials, but through personal, interactive experiences based on people
living and working in other countries.
The volunteers: The volunteer scheme is aimed at young people
who have finished their secondary education. These could be high school leavers, young professionals on a career break, or
university students wishing to add practical experience to their academic education.
The countries: The volunteer network is gradually building up. We have been in
touch with organisations in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. To start with, we have established a partnership
with the Management Centre in Lefkosa in Northern Cyprus (see separate section on this page). Hence, we
aim to establish links with organisations in countries that do not feature that prominently on the mental map of many (western)
Europeans. This does not imply that our potential volunteers have never heard of these places. It is just that perceptions
formed through recent historical events might not result in a fair assessment and thus undermine cultural exchanges which
could in other circumstances have easily happened, either through tourism or youth and school programmes.
The partner organisations: The scheme is not limited to a special type of organisation. Rather,
EPIC intends to cast a wide net and would encourage different actors to join the network. These could for instance be an NGO
working in the field of environmental protection, a small family farm, a business that is active in tourism or a public office
connected to local governance. The main criterion is whether the partner organisation could benefit from motivated volunteers
willing to contribute their time and energy in return for a cultural and professional experience. The work placements would
take into account the educational and/or professional background of the volunteer, with the aim of establishing a scenario
that would offer maximum reward for both the volunteer and the host organisation.
Duration of work placement:
The work placements run for different lengths
of time in line with the requirements of the host organisation. In return, the scheme also has to take into account the time
commitments of the volunteers. As such, a student might be able to take two weeks off in the summer before returning home
to work on a part-time job that might be essential for funding her/his studies. Hence, work placements could be as short as
two weeks, but might also last for up to two months or even longer.
The Management Centre of the Mediterranean
Nicosia/Lefkosa, North Cyprus
Volunteering at the Management
Centre. The Management Centre was established
in 2001 by the Cyprus Turkish Association of Managers. In 2003, it was incorporated as a Non-Profit Organization. The MC was
originally funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cyprus, which continues to offer financial support
to some of the projects. The mission of the MC is to manage change towards sustainable development by strengthening civil
society within the policy-making and reconciliation processes on the island. The Centre provides management and institutional
development services and also offers vocational training, work based learning, as well as professional development. The work
of the MC centres around four programmes: Civil Society and Reconciliation (CS&R), Institutional and Professional Development
(IPD), Institute of Communication and Languages (ICL), and the Management Centre Research Unit (MANAR). For more information
please go to: www.mc-med.eu.
The length of this volunteer scheme is from three weeks to two months. Volunteers will receive room and board from
carefully selected host stay families that are located in Nicosia/Lefkosa. The costs are around 200 Euro per month.
There are no visa
restrictions for volunteers from the EU or from North America. For more information please contact Andreas Staab at email@example.com
For more information on the Management Centre and the programmes to which volunteers could contribute, please
click on the link below
click here for fact sheet on the Management Centre
Money, Food and Lodging: The volunteer will not be compensated for his/her work. The emphasis
of this scheme is on a cultural exchange which results in professional experience for the volunteer, in return for offering
time and energy to the work of a host organisation. In those countries where the scheme operates, EPIC has set up a network
of family home stays, which will provide food and lodging. The costs of these home stays have to be met by teh volunteer and
vary depending on the general living costs in respective countries. For instance, staying with a host family in north Cyprus
will cost the volunteer around 200 euro per month.