Monday, June 13, 2011
- to meet great people (I have some new friends after this experience and some nice people that I will stay in contact from time to time). People from around the world with whom I spent wonderful time in the house of the volunteers, in the Portuguese classes, in the projects, at the beach, parties, football games, hang-gliding, etc. In the house we were +20 volunteers.
- to have a break from what I do and do something else
- to see and discover new things
- while I do the above, to do something good with longer term impact
As I am working in marketing (Leo Burnett Advertising Agency), I was thrilled to see that I can do volunteering work using the experience and skills I got in this field. I worked with Iko Poran directly, reviewing some aspects of their marketing and communication approach. In order to do this I had the opportunity to go with different other volunteers and take part in their projects so I witnessed first hand the approach Iko Poran has. And I can say that when my son will turn 18 I will encourage him to do some work in Rio with the Iko Poran organization. I've seen how people who volunteer benefit directly from the experience (my theory is that many of them benefit more than the people they are helping).
Regarding safety, with all the media stories and movies, when I arrived in rio I was at a high alert level. This changes fast as I understood rio is a great place - the only thing is to act as in any other major city (I would not go out during night in some areas of Bucharest although I am at home here).I had no bad experience and look forward to go back
Iko Poran people are great people, I personally liked the hands on and off approach (they are there when you need them, but they are not going to cross the street with you every time - and I assume you are not looking for this). When somebody needed to see a doctor they helped immediately. Stories from the past mention the same with police or other authorities (nothing like this happened during my stay). Need advice regarding going to football games? They help (even with tickets if needed).
Regarding the house, I was in love with it because it fitted my expectations for a volunteering house. But don't expect the Hilton or even a hotel level. It has everything it needs and is full of life. For me this was key!
If you have the chance to go to rio, don't miss it...and Iko Poran is a great option (Lonely Planet, United Nations Volunteering Programs also recognize them if you need extra reasons to believe)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
So, you've made up your mind and you're coming to Brazil to do great
things. I'm sure you will. Only they may not be precisely the same
things you were thinking on the plane coming down. At least, that was
my experience. I'd like to share some of it with you, and give you
some things to think about as you prepare yourself.
My visit to Rio began in March of 2007, and I came to help Iko Poran
develop its English language program. I believe I was in some ways
successful in that. What I didn't really realize, or what I was unable
to really digest until I had been there for awhile, was that the goal,
in my case, teaching English, was only the stated goal, that something
more subtle and most likely more important would happen in the course
of my stay. The truth is, while you are here ostensibly to teach
English or dance, to work on a photography project, paint a favela or
update a website, please consider that that is only your stated goal.
In many of the projects, the real goal is to give the members, often
young people, a place to be where they are around people who care
about them, off the streets, and hopefully out of the line of fire.
You contribute to that, the unstated but main goal, just by your
presence and commitment. By being there, you are giving them a chance
to get to know not a foreigner, but a person, and you get to know them
as people, not just as poor people. In short, you make contact, you
make connections, you make friends.
That's not to say that you're not also supposed to be doing what you
can to teach English or whatever. I know, too, that many volunteers
feel under prepared to do what they feel that they are here to do. My
advice is to do the best you can with what you have to work with, and
bear in mind that just by being there you are accomplishing a lot.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Since I also wanted to get a deeper insight in the daily life of those communities and the work the NGOs do there I worked the second part of my volunteer time 2 days in the office and 2 days at Parque Horacio. There I was playing with kids, drawing with them, giving English and painting and designing the outside of the place.
A future volunteer in the office could keep on contacting universities, but also other contact points like embassies, travel magazines or language schools to reach more potential volunteers and multiplier that communicate Iko Poran as the leading organization in Brazil for the placement of international volunteers in Rio. Different ways of communication could be tested. I think it is quite important to install means of communication control to see how effective the marketing and communication was in the end.
Since I only went twice per week to Parque Horacio I didn´t get a really deep impression. However, I think a structured learning plan or a fixed schedule with appointments for different courses could be designed, so the kids know when they can take what class. Since the kids in Parque Horacio are quite young it is quite helpful to think about games and ways of keeping the kids entertained and get their attention. To sum up, be open for new impressions and ideas and you will see what could be done to improve things.
Email: email@example.com weeks, from mid November 2010 to early February 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
If you work at the office, I recommend that you visit as many projects as possible in order to understand their needs as well as the way they work.
Please make sure, all volunteers write blog entries and fill out the evaluation questionnaire. At least every three months the questionnaires should be analyzed and improvements for Iko Poran’s work deduced. That way, the volunteers’ experiences as well as the sustainability of their impact can be improved.
A German volunteer might check the German version of the homepage to make sure the online presence doesn’t have any spelling mistakes and is up-to-date.
Jasmin G, Germany
Future volunteers can request my email address through the office