Friday, February 02, 2007

Training for Volunteering and Development

Preparing for Volunteering - VSO training for beginners
Four days of intensive training at Harborne Hall in Birmingham, at the end of January, proved to be really useful in a number of respects.

We met a host of other volunteers who were at different stages: some had been on VSO and since returned as Trainers, others were in the final stages of preparing to leave for their placements and were busy arranging their 'motorcycle training' (Cambodia), others, such as ourselves were waiting to receive their first offer of a placement. A good diverse mix of people from all walks of life, ages, shapes and sizes!

A great team of tutors - a class act!
Background information and discussion on areas such as Development, The Cycle of Disadvantage, Debt Crisis, IMF and the World Bank, HIV and AIDS, were cleverly interspersed with role play and games which effectively and practically brought home the immense problems some countries face and the approach VSO takes within these countries ~ heavy stuff!! Well, it could have been had Nicky, Pamela and Emma, all returned volunteers with brilliant group work skills and an equally good sense of humour, not been our tutors for the weekend. They constantly illustrated the various sessions with real life anecdotes from their own and other volunteers' experiences abroad making us both laugh and think at the same time.

Cultural consciousness:
The second part of the weekend revolved around Personal Preparation to help cope with and settle into working in a different culure - all extremely interesting stuff. I just hope I can keep it in sight when I start to panic !!!

We wound down at the end of each day either in the Hall bar or round the corner at The Bell for a well earned drink. We have just a couple of words for our group tutor Nicky - Farah Fawcett Major!! We so nearly won the pub quiz ~ we should have listened to her!

Keeping in touch:
Having swopped email addresses within the group and pleas of 'Keep in touch, we want to know where you are going', we left on a high, feeling that we had the full support of VSO and Harborne Hall as an information and training centre which would fill in the gaps in our skills. For some, HH was beginning to feel like a second home, they were there so often, cramming in the last of their training before going overseas.

Let's hope that our next visit will see us with a country to go to and specific training goals to achieve.