The Other Possibilities

2016 is CISV’s year for Sustainable Development. Throughout the year, we will bring you ideas, discussion pieces, materials and resources to help you to explore, educate on, and take action toward Sustainable Development in your Chapter or Programme. 

To open with the obvious: CISV is a great place to make a difference. We all know how important it is to promote global friendship, and the work CISV does with their members is a very good way to promote peace in the entire world.

However: that is not the only option. The world is FULL of great organisations and initiatives. There is an endless list of opportunities for people who enjoy working with important topics, who enjoy learning more about how we can use our skills and abilities and who want to expand their engagement. Just think of the age-variety between Grandmothers for Peace and Young Friends of the Earth, there is something for everyone.

After I ended my work with The Kompaz Project, I moved on to working as an adviser for youth organisations in Oslo, and in my first months of the job I have learnt a lot. When trying to uncover why some people do not engage themselves in the world of volunteer work, I have found two main reasons. The first is that they have never been asked, and therefore never joined. This is an interesting notion, and maybe something that those of us who are involved in organisations should think more about. The second one, which I would like to focus more on now, is that they feel there is too much to choose from. How can they decide where they should focus their energy, when there are so many good and interesting options?

There is a fine balance between trying out many new things, and taking on too much. The latter one is one of the biggest challenges the volunteer organisations have, because those who are involved are often involved in many other things too. Engagement is a beautiful thing, but not if it exhausts people. Keeping this in mind, trying out different organisations can give you a lot of new energy. As great as CISV is (or any organisation, for that matter), it is easy to get into the same track and feel like you’re doing the same over and over again. To expand your thoughts, it might be a good idea to look towards something completely different. Not only can you learn a lot more, but you can bring your own knowledge into a new field and hopefully contribute in a different way than others. Sharing knowledge is one of the greatest tools organisations have, and I think it can be beneficial for everyone to take some time to learn from others and not only spend time in the same organisation and go over the same discussions for too long.

There is a new initiative in Norway which has proven very successful so far. The website frivillig.no is a website intended to facilitate and increase recruitment to organisations. On the website, organisations can sign up and post tasks or jobs they need to get done by volunteers. This makes it easy for “outsiders” to go in and search for either organisations they want to get involved with, or special areas they want to volunteer within, and find many options on the site. The experience so far is that many people who have never been doing volunteer work before now find their way to meaningful jobs through the website, and end up getting involved beyond their original task. I don’t know if there are similar initiatives in other countries, but if not that is something to think about working against.

2016 is coming to an end, and CISV’s focus on sustainable development is about to change into a focus on human rights in 2017. However, this doesn’t mean that we leave sustainable development behind. There are ways to keep engaging with people who focus on sustainable development, such as the concept #SDGChallenge, which has done many interesting things throughout the year. You can also get involved in one of the many environmental NGOs in the world, or maybe focus on eliminating poverty. The list is endless, it’s just a google-search away!

There is no lack of options for involvement, and it would be a shame if we don’t exploit the options we have. So go out, look around and see what you stumble upon – you might be surprised!

*The Sustainable Development Team includes members of CISV’s Educational Programmes Committee, Kompaz Project, International Junior Branch Team, Communications Team, and the International Office. Our team coordinator is Madeleine Le Bourdon. 

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