By Anna Sach
Being an European Solidarity Corps Volunteer at the office of SCI Catalunya for seven months, the time just flew by because it was filled with so many different learnings, feelings, experiences and people I met. I realise how big the change is from the first time when I entered our office in January, nervous and unsure what would expect me, – to nowaday when I am laughing and talking during lunch break with my colleagues, trying some conversations in Catalan and feeling way more at home. Barcelona is a quite big and crowded city, but I learnt to orientate myself on my daily bike rides and the monthly Critical Masses, and now know my neighborhood quite well by heart. When I go to the social centre in my neighborhood to pick up our weekly vegetable box from our community-supported agriculture, I have some small talk with our neighbors. There are plenty of social movements, groups and collectives that organise alternative events, which I were happy to discover and thankful for their neverending work. I decided to stay in Barcelona after my volunteering for an one-year Master’s, in which I can dedicate myself even more to climate and sustainability issues with an interdisciplinary approach.
Contentwise I learnt a lot about climate, migration and gender during our projects and local groups. In March I coordinated the seminar ‘Peaceweek: Linking Migration with Climate Emergency’, in which we focused on the intersections of theses injustices, and for which I organised a exhibition called ‘Library of Resistance’. In April I participated in a seminar about queer feminisms and gender-based discriminiation in volunteering projects. With some other volunteers we reactivated the feminist local group Akelarre and showed two movies in the open air cinema. In June I supported the II International Youth Act! Forum as a local coordinator and met inspiring activists from the Mediterranean region. I got to know more about the regional struggles and colonial continuities, e.g. in Western Sahara or Palestine, and we presented demands for a just future. In these projects I gained practical experience in facilitation and management of groups, what we also discussed during the training weekend for coordinators.
Starting my volunteering journey with SCI in 2016 I already knew something about how the organisation within the international movement and the German branch worked, but during the last months I realised how much administrative background work is involved in organising workcamps and international seminars as well as local activities. I learnt a lot about project management and working in a horizontal organised team. With my colleagues and co-volunteer I had amazing support and feel thankful for being part of this great team.
Apart from my colleagues I met other wonderful people – either connected to SCI as volunteers, board members or international participants who stayed in our flat – as well as friends I met in my free time in which I was also active, for example, I participated in Volt 5, a climate activists‘ tour ‘Climate Justice and Just Transition’ about renewable energy infrastructure, and local direct actions against banks financing fossil fuels.
Personally, I learnt and reflected a lot, from organising plenty of different tasks and not losing the overview, to coordinating together with other people, – to the mantra ‘Plans can change’, which a friend wrote in my calendar, and taking better care of me.
I end this volunteer service with a heart full of gratitude, many connections and the motivation to stay active in SCI and SCI Catalunya for the next years! Thanks for everything!