Volunteering and Universities: So close but so far

One of the best memories of my childhood was my visits with my grandmother at the UNICEF store during Christmas. This is when I started becoming familiar with the NGO sector. Then, during my school years, I participated in various initiatives and actions, such as bazaars or food and essential items gathering for the vulnerable social groups. Later, thanks to my mother, President of a Nonprofit Association in Crete I was able to become a volunteer at her organization and obtain unique experience on the NGO sector.

Today, as a graduate of a Department of Humanities, I believe that if I had not obtained the experience of volunteering through my mother, I would have never had the chance to become familiar with the NGO sector. My university never tried to bring us in contact with NGOs or inform us about their role and work and there would be always a suspicion of their activities.

In order to improve relations between universities and NGOs, I would suggest the following:

• NGOs could approach universities and educational institutions in order to introduce themselves and their work to young people. The easiest way is to have kiosks and some representatives from the organizations in places where lots of young people are gathered in order to inform them and provide them with leaflets. Another way is to co-organize events with universities for social purposes in order to encourage students to participate in various activities and to take initiatives on social issues.
• Universities can also approach organizations. They can invite distinguished personalities from the NGO sector to talk about their experiences in order to raise awareness and inspire attendees. Furthemore Liaison Offices of the universities can provide interns with positions in NGOs where they will be able to acquire important experience about volunteering as well as work experience.

Jasmine Doumani
Graduate of Political Science and Public Administration & Intern at HIGGS.

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