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Training course in Durres – Albania. Youth and volunteering

Between 2nd and 11th October 2020, a training course on structured volunteerism, conducted by the Beyond Barriers Association, was held in Durres, Albania, as a fourth activity of the Erasmus+ supported project “Volunteering connecting communities (VCC)”. The main goal of the TC was to support the professional development of youth workers and youth leaders working with volunteers, foster their critical understanding of volunteering and youth participation as active citizens in all local communities. Recognize and strengthen the potential of the participants by enabling them to understand and integrate structured volunteerism, and other forms of youth participation in their youth work. Improve the competencies of youth workers on how to work with structured volunteering methods, and inform about opportunities and programmes offered by the European Commission, and other donors to enable young people to take part in day-to-day activities. Besides us as representatives of the Volunteers Centre Skopje (Republic of Macedonia), organizations from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, and the host Albania, also participated in the TC.

The TC took place in Golem, about 10 kilometers from Durres, in a hotel on the beautiful seashore. The first day was free and used to get to know each other. The second day, we started working, the goals and expectations of the TC were presented, as well as the agenda of activities. Later on an intensive training followed. It provided tools and methods to strengthen our capacities as youth workers, as well as practical examples and models on how to organize the work in our organizations. We were introduced to the volunteer management cycle, which we studied in detail step by step. We often worked in small mixed groups, exchanged diverse ideas and experiences. Also, within our national teams, we developed specific local projects and action plans.

The evenings were reserved for country presentations with a traditional music, and foods. The hosts organized trips to Durres, and the capital Tirana, where we had the opportunity to get acquainted with the traditional architecture and sights of both cities. To me, the contrast between the old and the new in Tirana was especially interesting, miraculously combined, which gives a special charm to this beautiful Albanian city. We visited the museum of bunkers, drank coffee in the main square Skender Beg, visited the Blloku neighborhood which in the communist era was an exclusive settlement reserved only for members of the Albanian Politburo, and forbidden to other residents. Of course, we took lots of photos.

On the last day, an evaluation of the TC and a ceremony for awarding Youthpass certificates were held, which concluded the working part of the project. The TC has been a valuable experience, full of work and learnings, as well as lots of socialization and fun. The Beyond Barriers Association made sure everything was in the best order, they were always at our disposal and contributed to the success of the project.

The training course on structured volunteerism is definitely one of the most engaging TC I have ever attended. The trainers Ana Dervishi, and Irena Topalli, with their diligent approach, in just 8 days, have equipped me with tons of skills and knowledge on how to develop from scratch and sustain volunteer initiatives at different levels. At all times, I felt like I was attending TED talks. My conclusion is that the outstanding leadership and management skills are key elements in successful voluntary programmes that build positive social impact and prosperity among communities.” – Dario Korolija, youth activist.

Josip Gegaj
Translation: Dario Korolija