There lies a stigma on volunteers. They are dull. Far from cool. Stupid for devoting so many time to something that is unpaid. Far from true.On top of this, volunteering is a necessity that keeps our world up and running. From the people in the marching bands to the people that take care of the animal protection. From the sports organizations to the board and committee members of your student organization.
Yes it’s those who lead your organization that are volunteers as well. Even though the Dutch system provides them with a compensation in the form of a bursary, but you can hardly call that a descent income. It is highly appreciated by employers to have some experience with running a student organization or committee. Above all it keeps the rich social atmosphere of the student population as viable as it is right now.
Apparently that appreciation goes as far as the European Parliament. Last weekend I had to attend the Youth Convention on Volunteering. It revolved around all the international student organizations that have got anything to do with Europe. So, they send me an interrail ticket and paid for my hostel and grub, and off I went.
I arrived late afternoon after having spent my time in the train by talking to other volunteers from Maastricht I met in the train. I walked to he parliament and registered. I expected it to be massive (they (allegedly) spent over 2 million and invited over 800 students), but it was fairly quiet. I blamed this to the fact that I was late and after meeting some other ESN’ ers I decided to go to my hostel to check in. After a quick powernap to recharge it was time for an ESN cantus. Just as always this lead to a better night than the following morning. I woke up feeling horrendous to say the least, but duty was calling.
We headed over to the European Parliament again to discover it was as crowded as a ghost town from the Wild West. Even though the idea of having a congres with volunteers sharing information and experiences is excellent, the way they pulled it off was very European Union 2011; Squander a lot of money while getting not a lot in return. I got over it and decided that I would just enjoy my time. A visit to the ‘ delirium’ and the after party of the convention served me well. After waking up early I took the train back to Maastricht.
Overall conclusion: excellent idea, poorly executed. Had a ton of fun and still have an interrail ticket for 15 days. Let’ see what next week brings. First week of class, a wedding and a week with an interrail ticket. I think I’ll be just fine.
I was born and raised in a town called Geleen, sited between the hills of the Dutch province of Limburg. I'm a 25 year old Psychology Master student and a member of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). I will enjoy shedding my critical light on life itself and share it with you while I am at it.