Workshops on food sustainability: Mahlzeit Austria 2019

By: Annalise Cajic

Welcome to the Mahlzeit Austria blog!

This Summer, AIESEC is working on the Mahlzeit Austria project, which promotes sustainable production and consumption, one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Focusing on food waste, AIESEC volunteers are in Vienna to deliver workshops to children on food sustainability. I tagged along with my friends and fellow volunteers Maria, Olia, Lasha and Daria as they developed these workshops. Let’s go!

About the workshops

Global volunteers attend a workshop by Pulswerk on food waste.

“It’s not just about food sustainability or reducing inequality,” says Sabrina Lichtnegger of Pulswerk, the AIESEC partner and promoter of sustainable development in Austria.  She’s telling us that to change the world we must embrace every SDG by changing our lifestyles. We’re learning straight away that the little things count, from how much food we throw away to how far away it is produced.

Mahlzeit Austria volunteers will be spreading this message to children and their families in their workshops.

 It’s all in the process

Olia, Maria, Lasha and Daria prepare their workshop on food sustainability.

Huddled over laptop and notes, I sit and watch them try to organize a plan. Funny enough, they are speaking in Russian, so as a non Russian speaker, I can only deduce they are planning something. They switch to English at times (so I know what to write about. Haha. And thank you).

I’m then  haunted by memories of working on dreaded group projects at school. Remember those? Nobody likes them because working with people is hard and you always feel like you’re doing all the work. This doesn’t seem to be the case here, though: when everyone is committed to a common goal and has the desire to do it, it’s a lot more fun. I guess I should take some lessons from AIESEC volunteers then…?

Becoming a global citizen

As I watch Maria, Olia, Lasha and Daria prepare, I really feel the global essence of AIESEC. They were speaking in Russian in a German speaking country, and now I’m writing about it in English! 

It also goes to show that when a social cause meets enthusiastic youth, cultural barriers are surpassed in favour of collaboration and leadership. 

From Belarus, Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine, each presenter proudly compiles fun facts and pictures of their countries. Did you know that hash browns are a traditional Belarusian food? Or that Lake Baikal in Russia is the world’s deepest lake? I didn’t know that. And if you didn’t know, you do now! I guess we’re becoming world citizens together.

AIESEC’s six values

Throughout the process, living diversity, one of AIESEC’s six core values, was evidently present. But I soon realized that the five others are at play too. Hear me out:

Striving for excellence: All participants want to be here. They are motivated to reduce climate change by reducing our food waste. They are driven, hard working and want to change the world (I am not being melodramatic, I swear this is true!). This can only be done through excellent effort and attitude.

Living sustainably: These workshops teach children the importance of eating sustainably by reducing their food waste. By educating the youth of today, Mahlzeit Austria volunteers are promoting a more livable tomorrow. Is there anything more important than looking out for our planet and humanity itself? I think not. 

Demonstrating integrity: Masha, Olia, Daria and Lasha are volunteering their Summer to educate children about something they care about. And doing so while embracing teamwork and each one of AIESEC’s  values means their hearts are in the right place. 

Activating leadership: We want to make a difference, one workshop at a time. We are cultivating our ability as change makers by leading Austrian youth in the right direction.

Enjoying participation: Working towards a common goal requires everyone’s participation. Those who are shy learn that to promote something they care about, they have to get themselves out there!

Quick fire Q&A with Mahlzeit Austria Volunteer Daria

Q.  What was the biggest challenge you faced when developing the workshops?

Daria, Mahlzeit Austria volunteer from Russia, shares her experience developing workshops for children on food waste.

A. It was how to make this information easier for children. Sometimes we don’t understand some things ourselves, so it’s even harder to make children understand these concepts.

Q. Did you learn anything about sustainability and food waste?

A. Of course, yeah. Specifically about the fridge, temperature levels and which side is the best and for which products.

Q. Which leadership skills did you use during the process?

A.  Maybe preparing to risk everything… And having self confidence. Wow.  Thanks for adding some drama to this interview, Daria.

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