Bosnia-Herzegovina welcomes more than 200 volunteers

For months volunteers all over Europe have been looking forward to the volunteer event of the year: the seventh edition of EFIL’s Volunteer Summer Summit! More than 200 enthusiastic and motivated volunteers from 28 countries gathered in Sutjeska National Park in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the highlight of this year’s summer.

 

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(Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia-Herzegovina)

It was great and at the same time very appropriate to be in Bosnia, exactly 100 years after WWI broke out following the shooting of Franz-Ferdinand and his wife on a bridge in Sarajevo, and less than 20 years after Europe’s recent war in the Balkans came to an end.  Up to this day, Bosnia is carrying the scars of the war in the 1990s, and it was great to have 28 European nationalities together in a place that just two decades ago was a terrible battlefield of human’s most evil nature… The topic of this year’s Summer Summit was Diversity Education and Interfaith Dialogue, an appropriate topic for the location.  One of the highlights of the VSS 2014 was the well prepared exhibition on the Balkan war by the Bosnian volunteers, with displays of charts, testimonials, facts and personal stories on the walls in the mail building. On the programme, there were several workshops that either focused on or touched upon the topic of reconciliation and the Balkan war.

It turned out to be a magnificent 5 days of learning and sharing in the woods of Bosnia. Participants enjoyed a wide selection of high quality workshops on a large number of relevant topics, the traditional bazaar, a local evening, the community project, leisure activities of all kinds, and most of all: each other’s company! Our training track system allowed for an efficient and easy process for the selection of workshops by the participants.

A big round of applause for all teams involved (prep team, trainers, support team) who helped turn this event into the unforgettable experience it was for all present. There are no words to describe the commitment and dedication of the teams involved in putting together an event of this size. No doubt they all crashed once the Summit was over, and they may have needed the rest of the summer to recover.

Following in the footsteps of the 2008 pioneering event in Vigy (France) and the Summits in Istanbul 2009 (Turkey), Zanka 2010 (Hungary), Zambujeira do Mar 2011 (Portugal), Ogre 2012 (Latvia), Ranum 2013 (Denmark), the VSS in Bosnia-Herzegovina has once more confirmed the EFIL Volunteer Summer Summit as the ultimate event for the active AFS volunteers across Europe and beyond. Once again, the Summit has shown that there is an absolute need for volunteers to share their experiences and challenges, and indeed their whole AFS life, with their peers, and what better than to meet in a superb summer setting, once a year.

At the EFIL office we are saying goodbye to Frederik, our intern whose name will be forever linked to the Summit 2014 in Bosnia. We are happy to introduce Marin from Iceland as the new EFIL VSS intern, starting her work and life in Brussels in September. Welcome, Marin!

We can’t wait for the VSS 2015! Already now volunteers are making plans to be there. And for those who weren’t present in Bosnia to witness the announcement of next year’s VSS venue: our partner organisation to host the hottest event in Europe in 2015 will be … AFS Germany!

For more information: inga.menke@afs.org

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