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I want to be a volunteer

by Йовка Жечева

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I want to be a volunteer
eTwinning project 2021-2022
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January 2022
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Session 4
Virtual volunteering
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Yovka Zhecheva- SU Sv.Sv.Kiril i Metodii/ Smyadovo, Bulgaria
Viktoria Zinchenco- Odesa school № 130/ Odesa, Ukraine
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Our volunteers
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Reasons to become a student volunteer
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This world is a better place because you volunteered!
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1. You’re making a difference
The reason for you volunteering in the first place is because something needs improving or others require additional support. So, whether it’s litter picking in the community, talking with the elderly, working with children or helping out at charity fundraising events, your help and support can make a huge difference to your community and those around you.
2. You become part of the community
Becoming a volunteer in your local area will help you to get involved with your community. It will broaden your horizon and you’ll probably learn new things about the city or town you’re living in, and uncover new places you didn’t even know existed. And it’s a great way to meet new people too!
3. You can meet new people
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and widen your social skills. The people you meet will also have a passion for the cause you’re volunteering for. So, it’s likely they’ll share some of the same interests as you. Meeting a diverse range of people means there’s a chance for you to learn from them. They may open your eyes to new skills, new ways of thinking and share their own experiences and knowledge with you.
4. Boost your skills and experience
You will expand your own knowledge by learning from the people you meet, widen your skill set and give that CV a boost. There are many transferable skills such as time management, organisation and communication/social skills; all of which will set you up for work in the ‘real world’ as they can be applied to most workplaces.
Having voluntary work listed on your CV will also show potential future employers part of your wider personality and what you are passionate about. And for some jobs you apply for after graduating – such as non-profit or charity organisations, having prior work experience as a volunteer will be essential.
5. Improve your wellbeing
Volunteering is not only good for those you’re helping, but it’s also great for your own wellbeing. Knowing that you’re doing something valuable for the community or lifting the burden of others, shows that you care and should make you feel pretty good about yourself.
Volunteering is the perfect way to fill your free time and will keep you busy whilst benefiting from all of the things listed above in the process!
Definition & Principles of Volunteering
Definition
Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and the community, the environment or individuals outside one's immediate family. It is undertaken freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain.

Principles of Volunteering

Volunteering benefits the community and the volunteer
Volunteer work is unpaid
Volunteering is always a matter of choice
Volunteering is a legitimate way in which citizens can participate in the activities of their community
Volunteering is a vehicle for individuals or groups to address human, environmental and social needs
Volunteering is an activity performed in the not-for-profit sector only
Volunteering is not a substitute for paid work
Volunteers do not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers
Volunteering respects the rights, dignity and culture of others.
Volunteering promotes human rights and equality.
What is virtual volunteering? 
Volunteers have heart and often wear it on their sleeves.
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Virtual volunteering means volunteer tasks completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It's also known as online volunteering, cyber service, online mentoring, tele tutoring and various other names.

Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas. Many people actively search for volunteer opportunities they can complete via home or work computers, because of time constraints, personal preference, a disability or a home-based obligation that prevents them from volunteering on-site. Virtual volunteering allows anyone to contribute time and expertise to not-for-profit organisations, schools, government offices and other agencies that utilize volunteer services, from his or her home or office.

Virtual Volunteering encourages and assists in the development and success of volunteer activities that can be completed via the Internet, and help volunteer managers use cyberspace to work with ALL volunteers. The Project builds the capacity of both agencies and volunteers, to make online service possible. Successful virtual volunteering takes much more than a database of online service opportunities -- the Virtual Volunteering Project provides the critical information and background to help both organizations and volunteers engage in effective, meaningful, mission-based online service. 
Benefits for the volunteers
Skills You Can Develop During Your Volunteering
Volunteering is known to be a rich experience, but did you know that it can help you find a job?
During volunteering you will gain some skills that are going to be useful for your future!
Communication skills
Leadership
During your volunteering, you are going to be able to test your limits to find out what kind of leader you are and gain confidence. The knowledge and experience you attain will give you the opportunity to be the best leader you can. Your time as a volunteer will help you gain and enhance soft skills. Indeed, you will improve your professional abilities but also your optimism, your capacity to be open-minded, and much more. It is also a good way to get out of your comfort zone by challenging yourself and try new things. It’s a time to experiment, make mistakes, discover, learn. A great experience to become the best version of yourself if you decide to!
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Volunteers from different projects use to communicate with partners, participants, colleagues, etc. You may also need to have discussions in another language than your mother tongue. Youngsters take this opportunity to increase their communication skills but also their level in certain languages.
In your professional life, this skill will be useful to help you communicate with foreign partners, to be confident during presentations, and even to grow your network. In a foreign country, your capacity to adapt to the way of communication will be a real advantage on your resume. 
Time management
More than leadership, volunteering will help you to be organized and teach you how to manage your time efficiently. Volunteers testify that volunteering helps them prioritize their work between tasks with and without deadlines. This is an important skill to acquire to not feel overwhelmed by everything. Youngsters feel the need to be more versatile and thus to know how to manage their time since society/employers ask them to have those qualities. 
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Teamwork
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Different tasks or situations will need to be done as a team! Volunteers often take this opportunity to develop their capacity to work on a group project on a professional level. Team-work is often asked in job applications. Indeed, start-ups, for example, really love to put stress on teamwork to combine different brains and brainstorm but also to be more efficient. That’s why old volunteers loved to highlight this quality in their résumé. 
All those skills can be combined so you can be the most effective version of yourself and be attractive on the labor market!
Ideas and opportunities
How to choose a good volunteering opportunity?
The key to success is to choose a volunteering opportunity that matches your skills, interests and availability. Once this is clear, you can start your search for a quality volunteering opportunity.
Volunteering can be an unforgettable and rewarding experience, but with so many opportunities available it’s important to be careful with your choice. The quality of your experience will determine how you will benefit from this great human adventure.
Set your goals
There are many ways one can volunteer. You can volunteer in your community, online or on the other side of the planet. You can work with refugees, elderly people and children… or for instance help in disaster areas or with greening your environment. So many options!
Once you decide to volunteer, the first thing is to ask yourself:
*What are my goals and expectations?
* How much time do I have available?
* What kind of tasks would I like to undertake?
* Which skills can I offer?
Eurodesk has developed an online quiz to help you evaluate what’s the most suitable volunteering opportunity for you. At the end, different examples of programmes will be provided as a source of inspiration.
"Why do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow?" said no volunteer.
Look for opportunities
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There are various organisations offering volunteering opportunities. The European Union offers you great opportunities to volunteer both at the local and international level with the European Solidarity Corps Programme. You can enrol in the programme if you are between 17 and 30 years old, but you must be at least 18 years old when joining a volunteering project. Once selected, everything is arranged for you! If you want to embark on a new adventure and dedicate yourself to helping others, you can sign up for the European Solidarity Corps today! You can also search the database of accredited organisations to get the contact details of organisations which might be looking for volunteers for their projects or browse the different opportunities and apply directly from the site. Still not clear about what type of activity to go for? Take the European Solidarity Corps quiz! On the web, you will also find private organisations proposing programmes to volunteer abroad, be aware that some can be very expensive. Here are some interesting organisations and databases of volunteering opportunities:
* Eurodesk: opportunities for young people
* Service Civil International: volunteering for peace
* WWOOF: a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers
* WWF Young Adult Volunteer & Internship Programme

Do background checks

You will find a lot of different opportunities on the Internet, as there are many organisations that would welcome your help. However, you should make sure that these organisations are reliable. There are hundreds of websites out there for organisations that no longer exist, never really existed or just do not do the work they claim to do. Even if you see an advert on a dedicated volunteering website, you should remember that these websites are not accountable for the credibility of the organisations that advertise about them. In short, you should always investigate an organisation, not only by visiting its website but also by speaking with its staff, to find out what the organisation is trying to accomplish and how their volunteering programme works. Reliable organisations won’t have any problem answering all of your questions and putting you in contact with previous volunteers. Bear in mind that even if you have chosen an opportunity that seemed perfect in a trustworthy organisation, things still need time to run smoothly and you should be patient. Not every volunteer mission is right for every volunteer, and while one assignment may not be ideal for you, there will be dozens of others that meet your needs and expectations.
The European Volunteer Center (CEV) has published a toolkit to help you evaluate volunteering opportunities.
https://df2253af-c034-4026-aac2- 5d1c91f60490.filesusr.com/ugd/3ec99c_c4bb9b38587f4b34ad24fc61e6972c2a.pdf
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Volunteers guide
Food for thoughts
Pros and Cons about virtual volunteering
1. It’s flexible.
Probably the main benefit is that virtual volunteering can be tailor-made to suit anyone’s needs. Virtual volunteers aren’t required to commute, make themselves look presentable, or spend long hours a project. In fact, volunteer search engines enable people to narrow opportunities according to the amount of time they want to serve, and they can determine when to fulfill their responsibilities. In addition, virtual volunteers aren’t restricted by physical disabilities, distance, or other obligations. Anyone with an Internet connection and/or a phone can volunteer.
2. It’s skills-based. Many people want to use their professional skills to advance the common good. Furthermore, some people want to get more practice with skills that need improvement. Virtual volunteering allows busy professionals the chance to find an opportunity that suits their availability and skill set, which will ultimately give their resumes a healthy boost. Volunteer work impresses employers in general, but virtual volunteer work shows that applicants are masters at managing their time.

3. It’s global. The fact of the matter is, volunteers are no longer restricted by distance or location. Traffic and different time zones cannot stand in the way of a volunteer’s desire to help a cause. Indeed, volunteers can make a difference in a community thousands of miles away, all from the comfort of their own home. Plus, their experiences will familiarize them with languages, people, and cultures they otherwise would never have known. 
1. It lacks organizational support.  One of the most cited complaints of virtual volunteering is serving an organization that doesn’t effectively support or communicate with virtual volunteers. As a result, virtual volunteers might experience many frustrations, such as long waits for responses to questions or a general disconnect from the organization’s “family.” Without an effective means of inclusion and recognition, virtual volunteers can feel left out and lose interest.
 
2. It’s isolating.  Virtual volunteers might not benefit from the feelings of empathy and personal connections, which traditional volunteering is known to deliver. Furthermore, virtual volunteering might lack a sense of camaraderie, leaving the volunteer without the benefits of sharing a common goal with a team. Consequently, virtual volunteers have been known to lose motivation and quit.

3. It’s difficult to sense a distinct mission. Factors such as social interaction, direct involvement with the cause, and first-hand accounts of positive impacts don’t automatically come with virtual volunteering. Virtual volunteers might lose a sense of belonging to a community and a sense of purpose. Furthermore, the physical disconnect inherent in virtual volunteering could impair a volunteer’s sense of influence in a cause. Such challenges could weaken a volunteer’s commitment.
A Guide to Volunteering in Bulgaria
There are lots of volunteering programs available to join including community, childcare and also consrvation projects available to join all year round. Large international charities and local NGO's have been working for decades to help people and improve infrastructure / living conditions. Some organisations provide assistance on the ground helping build new homes or make renovations to existing structures, a lot of family lives in poverty and do not have the financial means to help themselves. 
You might not know but Bulgaria has a shockingly high rare of abandoned children and many end up living in state run institutions. There are orphanages located throughout the country, they often lack the funding and resources which is where international organisations help. You will probably be placed on a group program with other people from all over the world. There are lots of excursions and activities you can book once in country, you might want to go skiing or head to a beach depending on the season.
Location of Projects
Most projects can be joined in places like Bourgas, Kavarna, Varna, Sofia, and Plovdiv. There are more options if you are looking to volunteer in Europe, for example you could combine experiences and also apply to volunteer in Romania. This country is located to the North of Bulgaria and there are more placements here.
Cost
You might need to pay a joining fee or donation when applying with an organisation or local NGO this usually include pre-departure support and placements, airport transfers, in-country support, meals and accommodation. To get a paid volunteer job in Bulgaria you might need to take a TEFL course and teach English.
Accommodation
Shared accommodation with other participants is usually provided, you might be able to book something independently though. Don't worry Bulgaria might be a developing country but there are modern facilities here and you can find wifi is cafes and bars. 
Working hours
The average day can vary but usually you will work Monday - Friday around 5 hours per day with weekends off. 
Language Requirements
Local people speak Bulgarian, you might want to take a phrase book or learn some basic words. A lot of younger people speak English but not a lot of older people do which can make communication difficult.
Potential and promise of online volunteering
The Internet is often perceived as yet another technological innovation that causes a further widening of the gap between rich and poor. However, one of the most interesting phenomena to come out of the Internet revolution is its utilization as a channel for social development. Volunteers working in task forces who were recruited through the net, work to improve the lives of many millions of people in need throughout the world. Some of these volunteers are ‘field workers’, working in physical proximity to those they are trying to help, while others may be sitting at home, using their computers to help needy populations many thousands of miles away. This paper studies this trend and advocates a model to explain the potential and promise of online volunteerism from the perspective of the volunteer. It is suggested that understanding the characteristics behind Internet volunteering from the perspective of the volunteer may enhance the positive potential of the Internet.
The model focuses on the unique informative and communicative aspects of net volunteering. It does so by separating this phenomenon into three separate subdivisions: the personal, the interpersonal, and the group. The personal subdivision refers to the advantages of volunteering on an individual level. The interpersonal subdivision refers to advantages in terms of dyadic interaction, and the group subdivision refers to the advantages as a result of being part of a task group. This paper concentrates almost exclusively on the positive, rather than negative, aspects of the Internet and Internet volunteering. This is because of the need for brevity, but more importantly, because the positive aspects of the Internet have been widely ignored by scholars. This paper aims to focus on these and to turn the spotlight on a fascinating combination of the affirmative harnessing of the Internet to increase social justice, and human well-being through unpaid volunteer work.
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