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Summer at Roots Camp: Mahlzeit Austria 2019

By: Annalise Cajic

Volunteering at Roots Camp

Hanna has been volunteering at Roots Camp while participating in the Mahlzeit Austria project.

As the Mahlzeit Austria project nears its end, Hanna reflects on her experience working at Roots Camp. AIESEC volunteers at this summer camp are promoting an unplugged and sustainable lifestyle to Austrian youth. Living without running water, electricity and the luxuries of modern life, Hanna realized that you don’t need these things to have an amazing experience. She also learned that we must respect nature if we want our planet to thrive.

Since the Mahlzeit Austria project is promoting SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), the camp is teaching its campers that living sustainably is possible. Actually, it can be a life changing experience.

And loving life’s simple pleasures is easier than you think!

Working at the camp

Campers sleep in teepees and live without electricity and running water.

Upon arrival at the camp, which is located south of Vienna, Hanna is responsible for the young campers. This includes making sure they sleep well, preparing food and organizing activities. Since campers sleep in teepees and prepare meals on the fire, leaders such as Hanna are needed to ensure a smooth transition to this new lifestyle. 

She adds that she was always “present at the different activities such as archery, wood carving [and] the games station at the wrestling tournaments.” Doing archery in the woods sounds like a good time. Wish I was there!

Living off the grid

Life without electricity and running water sounds like a difficult task. However, Hanna explains:

“It became quite easy to adapt to the living conditions… I just found my inner Jane from Tarzan and lived life to the fullest there. You shouldn’t stay too much focused on the difficulty of adapting to the life there… You basically have to get over it and enjoy it.”

That’s it. To have a successful AIESEC experience, you need an open mind and a positive attitude. Only then can you become a leader.

Learning to live sustainably

In its essence, Roots Camp is about respecting our environment and enjoying life without the luxuries we take for granted. This is how volunteers promote responsible consumption on behalf of the Mahlzeit Austria project. Hanna summarizes: 

“If we ruin nature than our whole ecosystems are ruined, so respect nature and learn how to appreciate it, but also use it… It’s called Roots Camp so we do go back to the roots of where it all started.”

Memories made

Beyond working with children and adapting to a more sustainable way of living, Hanna says that “it’s quite nice to experience what it’s like to live without a phone, to live without a hot shower and always cook your food on fire and actually make fire all the time.” Overall, she describes working at the camp as a “cool experience.”

Lots of memories were made at the camp, including this sunset!

If you are meeting volunteers from around the world, doing archery in the forest and promoting an SDG, your Summer is cool in more ways than one.

Click here to find your next AIESEC experience. 

First workshop completed! Mahlzeit Austria 2019

By: Annalise Cajic

This week, global volunteers debuted their workshops on food waste…

After spending the week preparing their workshops for youth on food sustainability, Mahlzeit Austra volunteers put their skills to the test for the first time. (Learn about the workshops and their creation process here).

At Mahlzeit Austria, volunteers such as Daria and Olia are promoting one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to youth. Here’s a run down of the some volunteers’ experience with their first workshop. What did they learn and what will they do differently in the coming weeks? Let’s find out.

Mission success: Mahlzeit Austria Volunteers Olia, Maria, Lasha and Daria at their first workshop about food waste.

My roommate, Daria, is sitting on the couch as we discuss the results of the first workshop. “For me it was cool, because children were really quiet and good,” she says.  BTW, Daria is my friendly roommate who may appear many times in this blog. We’re lucky we get to hear her input on a lot of these important matters!

Fellow volunteer Olia tells me about her lack of experience with children and speaking German. It was no surprised then that teaching children in German was even more daunting. Fortunately, they pulled through using teamwork. Despite the challenges, she tells me, the “children understood us and we felt their support and interest.” I guess this is my chance to thank any child who listens attentively and enthusiastically. They make all the difference!

Never stop improving

As we walked out of our first workshop,  we immediately discussed how to improve ourselves. Our final consensus is to include more games. Daria tells me, “maybe it can be more fun for children, because sometimes it’s like a lecture and they need to move more. I think children need it.” I agree. Children don’t want to listen to a lecture. Neither do I. 

When asked what she would have done differently, Olia reflects, “I would have probably added more games, but it went well in general. the amount of feedback we received was priceless because children liked us and listened to the things we told. The best is that they realized how important the topic is.” The SDG Mahlzeit Austria is promoting (responsible consumption and production) is important to volunteers and youth alike (or anyone who cares about humanity’s future, tbh). That’s why these volunteers welcome feedback and improvement.

That’s because the most important part of anything we do is getting better at it. Taking an event as a learning experience is at the heart of any AIESEC opportunity, and it’s why they are committed to providing youth with global experiences.

Teamwork > Flying solo

Remember enjoying participation? It’s one of AIESEC’s core values and ties in nicely with what we’re doing in Vienna with these workshops.

Though working with other people can be tricky (you have dealt with lazy group members and annoying partners, because haven’t we all?), I was happy to see my colleagues work together successfully. They also seem to notice the benefits of doing so.

“Benefits of working in a team environment are obviously in a number of ideas which we can produce together. We can also all participate in a project which makes our job easier because we don’t have to do everything on our own.” You said it, Olia! I couldn’t agree more.