Sunday, November 14, 2010

Volunteer Camp

I just got back from volunteer camp that was the launch of the National Volunteer Network in Kazakhstan, as well as a year long campaign to promote the network called World of Kindness. Overall, the conference was really well run and the session were very informative. However, I left with a sense of not understanding what it was for. Was it to just talk about volunteerism? Was it to get us excited about launching the network? I don't know. But the people were great and the trainings were well-done.


Whenever I go to these training/seminars/camps (I don't know why a two-day meeting a hotel is called a camp rather than a conference, but that's the term they use now), I like to note new ideas I encounter. I've been to a lot already, especially being involved with student leadership stuff at UGA, so most things I've done before in some way, shape, or form. When there is something new, it really stands out.


First activity: Paint mixing. The first day they brought us all in a room and put us each around a table. The group standing around the table popped a balloon that had a word inside. Then the trainers gave each of us a plate with water in it and put a set of paint on the table in front of us. We had to mix the paint inside the plate to form our special color. Then they gave us flour to mix in with the paint. Then glue. Then oil. Each was supposed to symbolize something, but that was in Russian and I didn't understand. Then they told us to remember the word we had, and we had to finger paint it on the board. Finally, other teams had to guess what word we had. My personal favorite part about this game is that two guys on my team (because they were older Kazahk males, and therefore dressed nicely for this type of conference) were in nice suits. However, they attacked the task with as much energy as everyone and managed not to get any paint on their suits. Interesting ideas from this were: the different ingredients symbolizing different things, popping a balloon to find out the club, and guessing rather than just explaining our paintings. All of these were unneeded in the overall activity, but they made it more interesting.


Second activity: secret angel. This was super easy to do, and it was a lot of fun. Everyone at the conference drew someone's name out of a hat. They were then this person's secret friend for two days. They were supposed to write nice notes, give creative gifts, and just make sure this person is cared for (some word in Russian that doesn't translate well is used to describe this succinctly). This is done secretly, so gifts should be given through third-party messengers, notes posted when people aren't looking, etc. At the end of the conference, people reveal themselves to their secret friend. I got a few nice notes and candy that were fun, and I gave away fruit and tea that I had left over from my train journey. A great success story was from one woman who said she had a very frugal husband that didn't believe in giving lots of gifts. But her enthusiastic angel had given her TEN gifts over two days. She said she's take them all home and show her husband her many gifts from a perfect stranger.


Third activity: closing wishes with string. Maybe, I had done this before, but I don't remember exactly. Anyway, at the end of the conference, we were each given a yarn necklace with twenty short (maybe three inch) yarn pieces loosely tied to it. We then had to take off these pieces and tie them to other people's necklaces. When we gave them away, we also had to tell that person something nice about them from the weekend or wish them something well. Then you are left with lots of nice things said about you, and a physical yarn necklace symbolizing all of the wishes. It's a really effective way to close out a conference/camp/training.


Balloon towers. A fun game that I led with Hilary.


One of the guys on my group that had painted in his suit. This is at the end of the conference with with wish necklace.


I was given a homemade card from an orphanage. It was a great honor and really sparkly. I loved it.

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