On 17th August, 2017 I have been invited to attend and participate in a reflection group about volunteering in Lithuania, organized by the local organization “Socialinis Veiksmas”.
We were a group of different people and nationalities, foreign volunteers and interns and some local volunteers too. At the beginning, each one of us introduced themselves to the rest or the group, and also we found out how each person and country has a different (or similar) way of introducing himself to a stranger or to a friend. For example, Lithuanian people usually prefer to stay more distant to the other person to protect their personal space, while Italians or Spanish people are used to get closer. But it always depends on the person.
Then we played a game in which each of us had to stand on a paper, trying to communicate with the group our date of birth without speaking, creating a circle from the older to the youngest, changing places, if we needed, without stepping on the floor. So at the end we made it with only one mistake, even if at the beginning we had to face some problems in communication, trying to understand each other, then suddenly we found a way to make it easier all together.
We discuss about our experiences in Lithuania, compared our different points of view and what was a cultural shock for us when we arrived here.
Then we were separated in two groups, one with foreign people and the other one with local people. In the foreign group, we had to write the positive aspects of volunteering in Lithuania and the challenges we had to (or still have to) face while volunteering in Lithuania. The other group of local people had to do the same thing but trying to imagine how it could be for us to volunteer here. So at the end, the groups showed what they did and explained what they wrote to compare how many things in common we had and what was different, from different perspectives. We also shared our personal thoughts and experiences about being a volunteers in Lithuania, its pros and cons.
Our last activity was again divided in two groups, but this time with both foreign and local people mixed together. We had to think and write about what should be ideal conditions for a volunteer to feel good in his project and have a great experience, and on the other side trying to think about what kind of considerations should be done by an organization before accepting a new volunteer.
So each group shared again what they wrote and compared their thoughts about it, finding out that we had almost everything in common this time. During the discussion, it was also a good time to share our feelings and issues we had to face in our experiences and our volunteering here, because nothing is perfect but we should be able to face the problems and try to solve them, sometimes it’s just up to us to change our situation.
In the end, before we said goodbye to everyone, we made a circle and one by one we shared how we felt after these activities making a wish for the future too.
It was very interesting to meet those new people and share our thoughts and experiences, to hear new stories and find out that even if we are from different countries and cultures, we are still more similar than we thought.
LGL is carrying out the 10-month project “Democracy and Art Intertwined: Working Towards Empowered and Active LGBT Community and Allies in Lithuania” under the Erasmus+ program EVS (European Voluntary Service).