Volunteering Experience in Brno – After My First Month Here

How Did I Get Here?

During the pandemic summer, we all had to choose between staying at home or travelling to the nearby locations we would probably normally overlook. For that reason, I ended up spending one August day exploring Brno, which is just five hours by bus from where I lived in Poland. I enjoyed the beautiful view from the castle hill, colourful old buildings, and delicious food in vegan restaurants. Little did I know that I would move to this city only a month later! 

As a new graduate that had no idea what to do next, I spent a big part of summer exploring gap-year options. It’s amazing how many of them exist out there! When I found a European Solidarity Corps project in Brno, I didn’t hesitate to apply. After a very friendly Skype interview, two weeks of hoping that the borders wouldn’t close again, and a day of struggling to move my huge suitcase from one place to another – here I was, starting my Czech adventure!

Lisen area in Brno, photo of nature
A green part of Brno where I live. Source: private archive.

So Much Support!

I remember feeling almost overwhelmed with support after I got here. At first, I got a lot of useful information from my sending organization. When I already knew I could always contact them, help from Mladiinfo side started. My project coordinator showed me some useful places in Brno, gave recommendations for trips, helped with opening a bank account, and found me… a mentor! Which meant even more people that I could turn to with doubts and questions during my volunteering experience. I’m grateful for that, as it made me feel like Brno is my home from the very beginning.

Mladiinfo team building meeting
Mladiinfo team-building meeting in September. The smallest one is me 🙂 Source: Mladiinfo archive.

On-arrival Training: A Trip for Learning and Socializing

On-arrival training is a few-day trip for newly arrived volunteers from across the country. It equals even more support plus a lot of inspiration and fun. Until the last minute, we weren’t sure if the training could take place offline, but then it did, amazingly just before more pandemic-related restrictions were announced.

I have to admit that as an introverted and anxious person, I wasn’t convinced about the idea of active five days with a group of people I didn’t know. Then I reminded myself that expanding my comfort zone is one of the reasons I’m here. I decided to treat it as an experience that could teach me more about myself, and well, it did. I observed my feelings and needs, engaged as much as I felt like, and ended up having the best time! 

The training facilitators and the volunteers all contributed to the atmosphere of openness and acceptance. After accomplishing creative tasks together and sharing our points of view, we felt like we’ve known each other for a long time. When I came back, I was even more motivated to make the best of my volunteering experience.

Definitely Not Boring Office Job

Before starting my volunteering project, I was also checking job opportunities. But every time I searched for offers, I ended up frustrated, because I couldn’t find a job with a purpose. A job where I wouldn’t only use my skills to make the company earn more money, but also to contribute to something good.

I’m happy to test and improve my creativity and photography skills when taking photos for the Library of Things. It’s an amazing eco-friendly project by Mladiinfo! I’m also glad I can add to promoting youth mobility, and make it possible for other young people to experience living abroad.

taking photos for the library of things
Taking photos for the Library of Things. Source: private archive.

Hopes and Dreams for My Volunteering Experience

It’s been just slightly over one month, so it’s still a beginning. My biggest hope is to make the best use of the time I’m spending here. To not see the time passing and think that I could have done so much, but I haven’t.

I’m trying to speak Czech in everyday situations, and I’m planning to get better at that! I have already visited a few places in Brno and the Czech Republic, and I wish to go on more trips. I have gained new digital skills, tried a new photography genre, made new friends, and learned some things about myself. So now, I’m hoping for more of what I’ve had during my first month!

Mladiinfo ČR helps Czech people to go for projects abroad. If you want to pursue your own volunteering experience, check out the current offers.