Posts

The Wiener Tafel market: Mahlzeit Austria 2019

By: Annalise Cajic

Read as I work alongside Ezgi and Marina, fellow AIESEC Global Volunteers participating in the Mahlzeit Austria project. Spending their days working with Wiener Tafel, I joined them on the job to discover more about what the non-profit does and how they are reducing food waste.

Working at the market

If you don’t yet know, the AIESEC’s Mahlzeit Austria project aims to promote responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). That’s when Wiener Tafel enters the chat.

Volunteers prepare produce to be distributed to charities.

Monday to Friday, Wiener Tafel receives, sorts and distributes food that would otherwise be thrown away.  To reduce food waste, they collect unwanted food from supermarkets and restaurants. This is where Ezgi and Marina’s job comes into play. Volunteers separate the good, fresh product, from that which has passed its prime. The food is then pick up by partners who put the food to use, instead of letting it go to waste. Charities often use food provided by Wiener Tafel to feed those in need.

On a bright and sunny Friday day, work has already begun when we arrive at 8:00 that morning. I noticed (and appreciated) the relaxed atmosphere and friendliness of the other volunteers. Sipping coffee, I introduced myself and we talked. Well, tried, because I don’t speak German and nearly all the volunteer don’t speak English. Still, we tried. I’ve gotten pretty good at using hand gestures in replacement of German during my 6 weeks in Vienna!

Volunteers sort lettuce as part of their work at Wiener Tafel.

We then went outside to start working. Today, a large quantities of lettuce, zucchinis, onions, potatoes and carrots arrived. We spent the rest of the day sorting the produce.

It was surprising to me how much of the produce was perfectly edible. While a supermarket may deem these heads of lettuce not good enough to sell, we simply had to peel off a layer of leaves and what was underneath was good as new. It’s little surprise then that according to EuroCommerce, the EU wastes approximately 88 million tonnes of food each year. That doesn’t sound like responsible consumption to me, and if we want to save resources and the planet, this number must be reduced.

Teamwork makes all the difference

The variety of people volunteering for Wiener Tafel gave me another view of our fight to reduce food waste. Our group not only consisted of AIESEC volunteers, but of people from all walks of life. I met young woman from Iran with an Master’s degree in accounting. She volunteers at Wiener Tafel once a week. The man with which I picked up some leftover baked goods at Dunkin’ Donuts (a highlight of the day, naturally), told me he was ashamed that a wealthy country like Austria would allow so much food go to waste. He says he volunteers to help change that.

Together, we were a dynamic group working for towards common cause. And we became friends in the process, so it was a successful and fulfilling day if you ask me!

Small acts can make a change

Whether big or small, you can make a difference too. Whether big or small, your efforts to reduce food waste can help reduce climate change in a time of crisis. At home, you can do so by using leftovers and eating food before it’s too late.

If you want to volunteer at Wiener Tafel, click here for their contact information.

 

Why you should volunteer abroad before you turn 30!

Our twenties are the years we want to learn a lot, love a lot, travel the world from one country to another and meet new people. Though sometimes (most of the time) we don’t always have the money or time to do that. Still, nothing is impossible. Volunteering is great way to do it all in a budget friendly way and the truth is the world we live in needs people to volunteer before they are 30 more then we need it for our personal growth.

Meet new people & Create new memories

Volunteering will allow you to create some of the best memories of your life. It will be all about trying things with new people, in a different place!

The great thing about it is that you’ll meet not only loads of likeminded people but also completely different characters from different backgrounds as well. This is what adds to the fun to your experience: you’ll be able to learn so much from them just by talking and the chances are you will remain in contact for life!

Career booster: It will look great on your CV!

If you’ve just left college or still studying, volunteering abroad will look impressive on your resume! When you want to learn some skills that might be useful for your future career, you can always find opportunities that will contribute to them. Volunteering also a good way to show what’s near and dear to your heart and you can adapt to new environment or comfortable with trying new things important to you and show that you’re more than willing to try new things. The perfect message to put across!

Get out of your comfort zone!

Try things you’ve never tried before, say yes to everything (almost) and do your best to get the most out of your experience. Try new foods or learn a language, talk to as many different people as you can and take these experience home when you return at the end of your time in that new environment. That’s how volunteering builds you as a person by getting you out of your comfort zone a little.

#YOLO

Do it while you can! You are never going to live this day again, be in the same age you are now or have time same amount of time you have at the moment! Maybe ths there is a country that you’ve always wanted to visit, or a language you want to learn. A volunteering experience will help you cross a few things off of your bucket list, that is for sure! Embrace your freedom and enjoy it while you can!

Make a difference

Actions speak louder than words and volunteering is a rewarding way to give back to the world we live in. Use the oppurtunities you have in life to make a difference in a community or a person’s life that might not have them. Whether it’s for children, environment or something else, giving your time and skills to those who need it and appreciate it will create a great difference in your life as well.

Leave behind your laptop and phone (for a while)

In our world today, people spend hours tuned into social media on their phones and laptops, and a couple more to e-mails, Netflix and daily to-dos! That’s a huge amount of time that you spend staring on a screen. Volunteering is the perfect excuse to escape that a little! You can get out there, get back to nature and stay there for a while. Feel the sun on your face, the sand between your toes, the wind through your hair – whatever does it for you!

Learn about issues going on in the world

It’s very easy to get lost in a city life , in your daily routines and forget that the world is a big place with lots of different people and realities you can learn to love.
Sometimes, being in a completely different place, sharing it with a whole new range of people can introduce you to another way of seeing some of the issues going on around us. You don’t even have to spend your time discussing politics or world issues whole day. Simply getting out in the world is an amazing way to open up your eyes and perspective. You’ll never regret it!

Capture the moment! Take notes and photos.

We all love taking photos so why not turn your travelling experience into a photo diary or even a project? Keep a journal or go online and share your experiences on a travelling blog! This way you can capture the breathtaking moments, log all your favorite memories and go through them when you are home. This is also great to take your loved ones through your experience and show them what you’ve seen and lived!

 

Written by Asli Ertem

Volunteering at Augarten: Mahlzeit Austria 2019

By: Annalise Cajic As part of the Mahlzeit Austria project, some volunteers are working at Augarten, a community garden in Vienna. There, they are promoting sustainable food growth and the value of growing one’s own food to Austrian youth. I spoke to volunteers Anna, Alessia, Elena and Solmaz to learn more about their experience at…

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.

 

 

 

THE UNDISCOVERED WORLD

I discovered a new world. But NASA hasn’t approved yet. I think is not needed because this world is very close to everyone. If you want to go and see, it is just one click, phone or street away from you. This world is called “AIESEC”. It is still waiting to be discovered by all young people. And as a student who visited, stayed and lived there I’ll share some stories.

AIESEC is a world of Opportunities.  Why ? Because here you are not just belonging to one nation, country or region, you are becoming a world citizen. How is that ? Going on an Exchange. For me it was in Slovakia. I volunteered on project called “International Kindergarden”. I had 6 great weeks with wonderful kids.

Selin Akay

Me with wonderful kids on a project’s workshop

Actually the experience starts at the airport.  It’s the moment when you realize you are not going on a trip, you are going on an adventure.

When you realize you had an argument with your family trying to convince them, questioned yourself if it is right for you or not. Because you don’t know what is going to be next. You’ve never been out of your comfort zone. Knowing that you made this decision on your own, you will be responsible of any outcomes. Then you notice, you are on a plane while thinking about this stuff. The next thing you see is a smiling face waiting to pick you up from the airport. Don’t forget, this person is your first friend in another country and maybe you might not know now, but the same person is also going to be your best friend. And now you’re reading this and thinking about how it can be possible. I can talk, talk and talk about How I felt, What I’ve been through, How it effected my leadership journey… Even if the intensity of my feelings could be understood from this point, the only way to feel it, is to experience it.

The words can tell the story but the people create the story. People can be part of organizations and make positive impact to society. YOU can make a story for a better world.

To accomplish it you should experience a leadership journey, which includes a global environment. Because the most effective way to understand your personality and values is to be in a challenging environment. By this way you are capable of learning by doing. Why I’m telling this is cause you are the person who makes important decisions, achievements, failures in your life. To know your true self helps you grow and be an example for the other people around you.

Now, if you are thinking about why is all this important… Here is the reason, we are living in world which is interconnected.

Everything you do effects another individual or whole society in a negative or a positive way. We need people who make conscious decisions, interact with other cultures, understand their values and respect people’s ideas. In a nutshell we need people who make our world livable. And it starts with you.

 

Do you want to do something meaningful this summer?
You also have a chance to volunteer abroad.

Click  here for more info!

Author: Selin Akay slike za blogere

Selin is exchange addicted, world citizen and sport enthusiastic.

An opportunity to share

Never an easy thing having friends who were part of the Global Citizen volunteering program. Listening to their endless stories, about how lucky they got during their journey, or how the experience had changed their lives, can only make you wish you knew about AIESEC’s opportunities a little earlier.

As sharing is caring, mates from my local committee wanted to tell you about their life-changing experiences.

“Going on a volunteering experience with AIESEC isn’t just an opportunity to explore the world. I know that now, anywhere I’ll go, I have family. Being surrounded by those people during my journey in São Paulo – Brazil was the best experience I’ve ever had so far. Don’t be afraid to be out of your comfort zone, away from your habits. Take every opportunity to celebrate life and create the best stories. That’s what I did!”

-Myriam Hemrit

Myriam Hemrit


 

 “My experience with AIESEC was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Everything went incredibly smooth from the beginning to the end. I was surprised how fast and easy was to find an opportunity in India, Bangalore. I went there and the local people took good care of me. I met the most amazing people that I encountered in my life. Working with children was a bit challenging but immensely fun. Getting out of my comfort zone and facing some obstacles on my own really helped me improving myself. I would recommend anyone to try AIESEC’s programs and live the same amazing thing that I lived.”

– Youssef Ben Ahmed

Youssef Ben Ahmed


Thinking about their experiences, I can picture which places I will be visiting in the future, and imagine in how many ways I can affect peoples’ lives.

I can only wait for summer to come, to cease the opportunity and go as far as AIESEC can take me.

 

Do you want to do something meaningful this summer?
You also have a chance to volunteer abroad.

Click  here for more info!

Author: Wala Ben Ali slike za blogere

Wala is passionate, goal-driven AIESECer from Tunisia. She has an excessive love for music, music coming from every corner of the globe. It helps her expand the knowledge of the world.

 

Dare to dream

Dare to dream: My experience in China

Corinna is a student of Chinese and English studies at University of Vienna.  She volunteered on a project in Chengdu, China.

Corinna

AIESEC: Why did you decide to take part in the Global Citizen Programme? Did your experience meet your expectations?

Corinna: First of all, I love travelling more than anything else in the world. It inspires me and enrichens my life in so many ways. As I have heard a lot of great things about AIESEC, I decided to go for the Global Citizen Programme. Furthermore, I found an amazing project, which is entangled with my study of the Chinese language and besides, gives me the opportunity to teach children in Chengdu.

China

AIESEC:  Please tell us the name of your project and describe it briefly.

Corinna: The Project was called “Dare to Dream” and was held in Chengdu, China. We were a group of 10 students who tried to teach English to children in a Chinese summer school.

In order to teach them English, we had to prepare several English lessons and we also taught them about our different cultural backgrounds (our country’s tradition, food, values, etc). At the end of the project we also participated in the Global Village, an event which connects several AIESEC Projects, which was a lot of fun.

China

AIESEC: What was your biggest cultural shock? How did you deal with it?

Corinna:  As I have been to China before, I did not experience a cultural shock. Unlike other participants, I had the advantage that I had already known a lot about the Chinese culture beforehand. But nevertheless, it was a completely different experience for me. The city of Chengdu is very different from megacities in the East such as Beijing or Shanghai. Thus I received a distinctive insight into Chinese life.

China

AIESEC: What was the most impactful moment during the volunteering experience?

Corinna: There were quite a few:

  • The kids in school – their happiness and gratefulness, it was so much fun playing music with them and teaching them English.
  • The whole AIESEC community – we got into contact with two other AIESEC Projects in Chengdu and thus we were able to hang out with people from around the world.
  • Making new friends in different parts of the world.
  • Getting a deeper insight into the Chinese culture by travelling through several provinces after the project has ended.
  • The feeling of liberty when travelling in general.

China

Do you want to do something meaningful this summer?
You also have a chance to volunteer abroad.

Click  here for more info!

No Llamas in Colombia

“There are no llamas in Colombia,” he affirmed. This small detail caught my attention and resulted in an hour-long storytelling session in which I realised how few I know about South America.

My friend Hazar worked 3 months in Colombia. In the suburbs of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, he helped in schools and taught English to young kids. He worked together with a dozen of students from all around the world. Some of the kids had never seen people from somewhere else than South America. Most of the team could not speak Spanish, which resulted in communication problems. Hazar and his team had to adapt to the situation to create an unforgettable experience for the kids and themselves.

Columbia3

“After living in Vienna for a while, it was hard to imagine how things can get unnecessarily complicated.” he told me when I asked him about his biggest culture shock.

While they worked during the week, they explored Colombia during weekends. Soon, Hazar realized that there are no llamas in Colombia. His friends can assure you that he loves those furry, spiting beasts. Knowing this they organized a short trip to a petting zoo. So he could take a photo with one of the few llamas in Bogotá.

Columbia2

During his time abroad he lived with a host mum and her son. The advantage of living in a host family was that the mom cooks great and that he could enjoy the Colombian cuisine. Her son and some other locals taught him, on the other hand, how to get around fast in Bogotá. Because apparently the traffic in the city was terrible.

“I don’t like to travel just for sightseeing, so Global Citizen was a good opportunity for me to travel and to be of use. I had a great time there. I met some people, who will always be very precious to me and I saw great places.”

At the end of the three months Hazar had enough time to travel to the Caribbean. By swimming there he fulfilled one of his long hold life goals.

We all have great destinations and goals on our list. What is keeping us from reaching ours?

Author: Lukas Bensch

Peru: Your story is waiting to be written

Peru, one of South America’s hidden gems, is no longer a secret as toursts flock to this Spanish speaking country year-round. The land of Incas and gastronomical capital of South America has more to offer than its indisputably enchanting nature and mouth-watering cuisine. It also offers foreigners the opportunity to submerge in the Peruvian culture, way of life, and values unique to this developing Latin American country.

Chimbote, located on Peru’s pacific coast, was Austrian volunteer Mara Weiss’ destination. Peru, a large country, with rainforests, mountains, sea, and deserts, has many different landscapes and cities to visit yet Chimbote is not a popular touristic sight. ‘’As I scavenged online for information about the city I mostly got warnings not to go as it smelled like fish and was mostly an industrial city with no tourist attractions whatsoever,’’ Weiss claims. However, this didn’t stop her from wanting to explore Peru as she embarked in her long adventure anyways.

‘’I was rather nervous and insecure, but I was also curious because I’ve always wanted to go to Latin America,’’ Weiss explained. Arriving in Peru she discovered that most of her expectations were inaccurate, the city did not smell like fish and despite being a small town it was enjoyable to be there and interact with the locals.

peru3

Weiss crossed the Atlantic Ocean to volunteer with ‘’EduAction’’, a NGO bringing students from all over the world to Latin American countries to host workshops for local kids focusing on global topics and issues, such as sustainability. ‘’We gave workshop classes to children in eight different schools, all in Spanish, which made it a challenging but outstanding experience,’’ Weiss explained. The locals appreciate this as it brings the world to them through the many volunteers visiting towns throughout Latin America. ‘’The students appreciated our work and the knowledge we shared with them as many might not travel outside of Peru and their thirst for knowledge of the outside world is immense,’’ Weiss added enthusiastically.

‘’Not only do the students learn about the world, but also about themselves while enforcing their confidence, leadership, and creativity among other skills,’’ Weiss explained. ‘’ We were like their mentors and they appreciated it as they grew comfortable around us’’ Weiss adds. The students grow as individuals and begin to think differently and creatively, an important factor for impoverished countries like Peru where children are the bright upcoming future.

Peru4

‘’During my 10 weeks in Chimbote I brought change to the classrooms of Chimbote, but I also learned from the children I interacted with,’’ Weiss said. ‘’I learned that we are all similar and that this was a unique opportunity to bring two different realities together and share experiences and time together, ‘’ Weiss added. This and the countless Peruvian sights and mouthwatering cuisine make Mara miss Peru, and long for her return.

As with most developing countries in the world, Peru is in need of volunteers that are willing to bring change in any form. Mara’s experience in Chimbote illustrates the need for volunteers in Peru and how much one person willing to spend their time and energy can really do. When it comes to helping and volunteering it is the time and energy you spend that brings the change we want to see in the world. Not only do you ameliorate a community but you also grow as a person and become a global citizen that can proudly claim ‘’I did make a change’’. So what are you waiting for? Be the change you want to see in the world, as Gandhi once said.

Author: Mauro Ortíz

7 Reasons To Volunteer Abroad

Each year we ask us the same question “What should I do in this summer?“

We make several plans, do a lot of internet research, apply and eventually end up doing exactly the same as the summer before. This year do something different. Here are several reasons why I believe you should decide to go on a volunteering internship and have the summer of your life.

1. Exploring

Volunteering gives you a chance to explore new countries and cultures in a different way than by just travelling and sightseeing in these countries. Doing a volunteer internship shows you the country from inside out, allows you to get to know the culture, locals and their habits. You will see places and areas you would never have the possibility to go to as a tourist. Some people might have travelled the country but in doing a volunteer internship, they sometimes feel they’ve been here for the first time.

„Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.“ (Robert Frost)

Photo4

2. Connecting

Meeting many new and different people is another great aspect of volunteering. Working with young people from all over the world is a big advantage nowadays. This diversity can help you improve your soft skills and give you the opportunity to make friends across the globe. Sometimes, it’s hard to get in touch with local people as a foreigner, but as a volunteer it will be impossible not to get to know them. Another positive aspect is that for your future career, it’s important that you have the skill of adapting to different environments and work in a team with diverse people.

3. Communicating

 By communicating with people you might even soon call your friends, you’re able to improve your language skills or even learn a few words in another language. And we all know that improving language skills, especially English, is always “the yellow from the egg“.

4. Doing amazing things

 We don’t want to forget why we volunteer. Besides many positive aspects, the most important thing is that we can make a difference by helping: helping children learn English, contributing to the environment or helping the locals. For you it’s just a few weeks of exploring and helping, full of new challenges. For them it could be a life-changing interaction. Always be aware what you are able to do and change just in helping step by step.

“The world is changed by you, do something awesome!“ (Kid President)

1240160_597809300269138_548890447_n

5. Getting to know… You

 Just dare and you will see soon that you will learn so much more about yourself than you’ve ever imagined. By volunteering you will experience so many new things and challenges. By doing so, you will truly reach and extend your limits. But in the end you will feel absolutely nothing but self-fulfilment when you look back at what you were able to do in a few weeks.

Photo3-1024x683

6. Learning

After working several weeks on amazing projects and in NGO’s, you will not only improve your soft skills but also gain valuable knowledge and practical experience – for example entrepreneurial experience, which can be helpful for your personal and professional life. Volunteers don’t do it for the money; they do it for the impact.

7. Getting off the couch

Going abroad for several weeks and working there is always a challenge for oneself. You have to step outside your comfort zone and be dare, because nothing will happen if you don’t take the first step. It won’t be always easy, speaking of cultural differences and cultural shocks (be excited for our next blogpost) but you just have to break down barriers. There will always be obstacles or challenges in your life and no one can prepare you for them, but in learning how to overcome them, you will get a feeling that you’re unstoppable. So go outside, dare, challenge yourself and get the hell out of your comfort zone!

And always remember when volunteering:

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind“ (Neil Armstrong)

thomas-ghana

Thomas stepping out of his comfort zone while volunteering in Ghana

Author: Julia Wünscher