"Volunteering helps me to grow as a professional," says Paolo, EU Aid Volunteer in Kazbegi
EU Aid Volunteers provides European volunteers the opportunity to become involved in humanitarian aid. Meet Paolo, our EU Aid Volunteer based in Kazbegi to support the Local Action Group.
Hello, Paolo. Could you tell us about yourself?
I come from Montereale Valcellina, a small town located in the northeastern part of Italy, more precisely in the province of Pordenone. I hold an MSc degree in Development and International Relations from Aalborg University (Denmark) and a BA degree in East Asian Studies from Ca' Foscari University of Venice (Italy). During my masters, I also took part in an international exchange programme at Doshisha University's Graduate School of Global Studies (Kyoto, Japan). After completing my studies, I worked as an intern at the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) in Beijing, People's Republic of China.
From the beginning of September, I joined People in Need's mission in Georgia as an EU Aid Volunteer/DRR and Fundraising Officer.
You are young and have already travelled a lot. Is it common for Italian young people to travel or attend some volunteer programme like you?
Rather than only talk about what young Italian people do, I think that we should consider the situation in Europe. Thanks to the increasing number of opportunities to study or volunteer abroad, the number of students that decide to attend at least one semester abroad during their educational path is increasing. I believe that this is a very positive trend because the students who decide to spend some time away from home are able to explore new countries, make friends, and experience different teaching/studying methods. Examples of volunteer and study abroad programs include the European Voluntary Service (EVS) the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative, the ERASMUS + programme, the European Solidarity Corps initiative and the Alternative civilian service, to name just a few.
Are you a member of any social organization or NGO? Have you ever worked as a volunteer before taking part in the EU AID Volunteer programme?
Volunteering has always been a great passion of mine. I volunteered for four years at a local non-profit organization that promotes cultural, educational and charitable activities such as fundraising events, summer camps for children and learning opportunities for seniors. Given my strong interest in disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, from February 2017, I have become one of the 40 volunteers of Montereale Valcellina's Civil Protection Municipal Group, an organization that deals with crisis and emergency management.
Where did you hear about the EU AID Volunteer (EUAV) programme at first? Did anyone recommend it to you?
I heard about the EUAV programme through reliefweb.int, a very useful gateway for humanitarian and development jobs.
Could you tell us about your EU AID Volunteer programme? What is it about? Until when will you stay in Kazbegi? What are the activities you are responsible for?
The EUAV programme is an initiative of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (DG ECHO). It offers the possibility for European citizens and long-term residents in EU countries to provide practical support to humanitarian aid projects and contribute to strengthening the local capacity and resilience of disaster-affected communities.
Before starting my deployment at the beginning of September, I attended two trainings: the EU Aid Volunteers Training Programme at the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) in Stadtschlaining, Austria; and People in Need's induction training in Prague, Czech Republic. As I will be based in Kazbegi for one year (until September 2018), I am going to be involved in several activities. They include building the capacity of the Local Action Group (LAG) Kazbegi on fundraising and reporting; support the programme field staff with developing training and workshops related to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and assisting the LAG Management in identifying and communicating with relevant organizations and networks outside Georgia.
Can this project meet the expectations, which you had before coming here?
Yes, I am confident that this project will meet the expectations that I had before moving to Georgia. As I will be exposed to several and diverse activities, I think that participating in the EUAV programme and working alongside LAG Kazbegi, are both excellent opportunities to advance skills, tackle great challenges, and grow as a professional.
What are your first impressions about Kazbegi and Georgia?
I have been living in Georgia for less than a month, but I have already been touched by the beauty of this country and by the warmth of the people. The landscapes here are really breathtaking and Georgians are very friendly and kind. I am really happy to be here and I am looking forward to experiencing the raw beauty of the area and living as the local people do. And who knows, I might decide to extend my stay here.