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Luca Csikós. Volunteering: best practice models in the international arena . Why to talk about volunteering?. In recent decades, voluntary work has become not just a personal hobby or social expectation but also way of personal development (modern versus traditional volunteering).

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Luca Csikós

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Luca Csikós

Volunteering: best practice models in the international arena

Why to talk about volunteering?

  • In recent decades, voluntary work has become not just a personal hobby or social expectation but also way of personal development (modern versus traditional volunteering).

  • Positive impacts of volunteering have been studied extensively and favourable effects on both the volunteers and the beneficiaries have been identified.

Who is the volunteer?

  • The volunteer “is a person who commits himself of his own free, without profit motive in an organized action, to the service of the community.” (source: Beigbeder) 

  • The volunteer is a person who is offering his/her help by own decision, and doesn’t get any salary or does not financially profit from this activity. Professionals usually help them by coordinating their work. (source: Gosztonyi)

Who is the volunteer?

  • The European Parliament, on 16th December, 1983 defined voluntary work as follows: First and foremost, voluntary work is unpaid and has to be based on an own decision of the participator, therefore it can not be an obligation. On the other hand voluntary work has to be “socially relevant” which means that it is performed in the following sectors: environment, welfare, education, corporation and development.

Who is the volunteer?

Source: Beigbeder

Motivation of the volunteer

Source: Beigbeder

Motivation of the international volunteer

Source: Beigbeder

Example about international volunteering: European Voluntary Service (EVS)

  • The European Union has launched its own program, called European Voluntary Service, which provides a framework for young adults Europe-wide.

  • The European Union has determined the following priorities, when establishing this program:

  • The following countries are eligible for participation: “EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey, the EU neighbours (Eastern Europe and Caucasus, the Mediterranean region, South-East Europe) and other partner countries in the world.” (Youth in Action, 2010)

Source: Youth in Action

Example about international volunteering: European Voluntary Service (EVS)

  • “…helps young people to develop their sense of solidarity by participating, either individually or in group, in non-profit, unpaid voluntary activities abroad.” (Youth in Action, 2010)

  • The European Voluntary Service is a unique chance to be a volunteer for a long term in a foreign country.

  • The main aim of the program is “to develop solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people, thus contributing to reinforcing social cohesion in the European Union and to promoting young people's active citizenship”.

  • This program is open for every young person aged between 18 and 30. From the voluntary activity, both the volunteer and the local community have certain benefits. The volunteer can develop her skills, professional knowledge and personality;the local community gets unpaid help to perform their activities and may acquire cultural competence by working together with the foreign participants.

  • The volunteers can participate in four different trainings which provide help for solving their problems and be able to reflect on the whole exchange process. (1, EVS Pre Departure training 2, EVS On-arrival training 3, EVS Midterm training, 4, EVS Final Evaluation meeting (Youth in action, 2010)

Example about international volunteering: European Voluntary Service (EVS)

EVS Project Evaluation 2010– Views of the participants:

  • 25 Young people aged between 18 -30 who have completed their EVS project within 2 years.

  • Their EVS project was longer than 6 months but shorter than 15 months.

  • All of the participants have completed their EVS project at the Central Balkan Region, especially: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (combined project in Kosovo and FYROM)

  • Sending countries: Spain, Portugal, Finland, Poland, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, SwedenFrance, (French & Dutch)

  • “I’m the richest person in the world with my experiences.”

  • “My articles about EVS project and Macedonia have been published in a few magazines in my home country.”

  • „Oh, and I decided I wanted to learn Hungarian as well now.”

  • “It`s difficult for me to stay in one place for longer.”

  • „Adapt myself to unexpected situations, to other ways of working, of thinking, to cultural and personal differences.”

  • “It changed my philosophy of life in a way, because I learnt that when things don’t go the way we wanted or we expected them to go, there is often something good or even better that what we had expected coming. It made me more relaxed about the future, more optimistic. It helped me to see the positive things in a complicated situation.”

  • “What I have learnt in this experience abroad was about myself, what I need, who I am, who I want to be, what I want to learn, what I want to do etc etc.”

  • “I realized that I can live by myself that earlier I couldn’t even imagine.”

  • “I understand and accept new cultures better.”

  • “I'm currently majoring in Serbian, the language of my host country, at university, something I never even considered before.”

  • “I feel that I became better person.”

  • “I’m looking differently at the European map.”

  • “… much I need to work on something useful… with other aims than money.”

  • “I’m more open to different cultures and ways of thinking.”

  • “I understood my own limits and other people limits, what can I or not expect from myself / from them.”

  • “Even if people don’t have a lot of money, the situation satisfies them.”

  • “The big change is that I realized that I want to live in my EVS country!”

  • “Discovered my own weaknesses and “faults”.

  • “I have a motivation that I didn’t have before, in my studies, in my life.”

  • „whatever happends, I’ll be linked to this country.”

  • I don’t really know how to explain it!”


  • Beigbeder, Yves (1991). The role and status of international humanitarian volunteers and organizations. The Netherlands: MartinusNijhoff Publishers.

  • Csikos, L. (2012). International Perspectives on Social Work. Human Innovation Review. (3) 1-2. Kaposvár: Human Exchange Foundation.

  • Gosztonyi G., Pik K.(1998) (szerk.). A szociálismunkaszótára. Budapest: SzociálisMunkásokMagyarországiEgyesületeGrafitKiadó.

  • Youth in Action (2013)

    URL: 2010.02.01

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