The first day in the head office, we worked with Monica Garcia Porto, Concordia’s long term volunteers’ coordinator. We spent time to perform the followed activities:
- Coordination all of the activities of 9 different local offices;
- Core activities: work camps, international volunteer programmes and civil cervice
As we shadowed Monica’s work, which is the coordination of long-term international volunteers, we had more time to be involved with this topic. It was quite interesting because we observe in detail how the international volunteering works as well as the partners’ network.
Marketing at Concordia. Since I do have the interest on marketing, so I had a chance to explore these activities in Concordia. They still follow many offline marketing activities and spend huge resources on the brochures and flyers, which are sent to local offices, schools, youth centres, universities. The organization actively participates in education fairs, job fairs, musical festivals to recruit participants for their programs. They also use online marketing such as Faceads, SEOs, Twitter, Website, Youtube. In addition, Concordia started to use sign language in marketing, which is still new but is becoming a tendency in communication. 2000 participants last year was a significant number that proved the efforts of the team.
Visit Concordia’s Partner: Passarelles 17 (www.passerelles17.org) is one of Concordia partner’s. We come to visit the office and involve in Ceramic Mosaic workshop with Roxane (Civil Service participant) and other volunteers which are diversified in background, personality and ethnicity.
Visiting Concordia’s Local office Paris Ile De France: The first morning in Ile de France, Mr. François Trocqueville introduced the activities of the local office in Paris. We learnt about the non-formal education, specifically the Civil service. The goal of Civil service is to help volunteers recognize their skills and competences that might not be recognized by the formal education sector and to assist them in Job hunting. The candidates are evaluated solely by their motivation. After selection, they will spend about 6 months to 1 year with a small salary from the government of Euro 500-600/month and there will be tutor support to supervise their work. The tutor will be selected based on their relevant experience and skills, they will be trained and approved by the Agency in order to be qualified for the job.
The Civil service volunteers are involved in diversified activities at the local office. Roxane and Margo took us to go around to see a work camp project. They could work on the project of finding cheap location for international volunteer in Paris; involve in work of partnership organizations; participate in a work-camp.
We visited the Cultural Center named 104, where everybody can access and use the facilities to practice music, dance, theatre for free. It seams that the cultural centre is a very a good idea for the youth and old people to connect to society, especially in the smart phone and internet society where people forget about real human being relationship.
Clemont Heraugh: In Clemont Heraugt, they have only 2 persons: Nicolai, who manages the office and oversees all of the activities, and Morgan who is more focused on the Civil service, long-term international volunteers, and support for the work camps. The principles of organizing the key activities are similar like the other 9 local offices. However, in Clemont Heraugh, they are more focused on the work camps.
Work Camp: The local office has to work with local partners in order to plan the work camp, then the plan will be sent to the head quarter to recruit participants. Later local office will run the work camp. It seems a very simple work process, but actually the workload is incredible. First of all, they have to work with local partners at different levels. I had a chance to go to one of their meetings with Lo Trescalan (www.trescalan.fr). The meeting was very open, both parties explain their activities, ability and their expectations, they did raise the idea for the work camp in term of organization, budgeting and activities.
The local office normally hires a team leader with good technical and soft skills in order to assist them in managing each work camp. The team leader will be trained, signs a contract with a small payment, and receives a certificate when the program if finished.
The work camp activities are proposed according to the needs of local organizations, so when they do planning, they have to consider the feasibility, the budget, and many other administrative and practical issues to guarantee the 2 weeks of 15 diversified people effectively and reasonably. The goals of the work camp: culture exchange, skills’ improvement, networking, society contribution.
One of the work camps that they organized last summer, cleaning the road to Le Chateau Fort in order to receive tourists – a historic monument which was forgotten for a long time. The participants perform the work manually with the message of environmentalism, which means that they cut off grass and trees by hands, not using electronic devices or chemicals.
During my days in Clemont Herault Nicolai shared many of his working experiences in Concordia. According to him, one of the key principles is maintaining good relationship with local partners. In addition, you need to be flexible, and adaptive. I found out that people who work in the Concordia, work with passion and they love their job.
The logistics. The logistics could not have been better. Monica prepared very well for our visit from transportation to accommodation. In Paris, we stayed in the Youth hostel which is near by the Ile de France office and not so far from the train station where we can go to the head office and sightseeing. The room in the hostel is clean and friendly. The homestay in Clemont Herault was more than my expectations. The host was very nice, funny and a good cook, she prepared breakfast and dinner for me. I had lunch in the office with the staff. Even the public transportation is not popular in Clemont Hergault, but I did have chance to do sightseeing, looking around the area, exchanging culture which was very nice.
I am very thankful for my days in Concordia, that was not only a good job shadowing but a time of building friendship, cultivating the culture exchange and understanding among people from different countries.
Future Opportunities. Monica has an idea of sending Civil Service c to Hanoi University for one or two semesters and Hanoi University staff or students can be volunteers in Concordia. I have talked to my rector on this idea, he is supportive for these kind of activities. At this moment, we wait for the proposal from Concordia so we could start the preparation for the program. If the it works, we could consider on the similar activities for third and last year students at Hanoi University latter.
After the Job Shadowing, I am thinking of promoting the work camp for Hanoi University students. We have more than 10,000 students who study foreign languages, tourism, finances and business. They have many extra curriculum activities but work camp is a new activity. In addition, a chance to connect and involve in international activities is really needed for them in order to improve their professional and social skills, especially in the globalization era.
Conclusion. Two valuable weeks in Concordia France offered me professional skills, job working knowledge, a network with non-formal sectors, not only in Concordia but with Concordia partners as well. I had chance to experience the French culture in Paris and in Montpellier (Clemont L’ Herault), in the same time, sharing Vietnamese culture. My experience is in the formal education sector, and this is the first time I had chance to observe the activities of non-formal education. My perception has been changed and I did recognize different ways to contribute and have a meaningful life.
I want to say thank you to Deineta and Concordia for this excellent opportunity. Thank you Abel, Nejirus, Monica and Nicolai for your nice support.
Hieu Nguyen Thi Minh
Hanoi, March 8, 2016
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