Polish wodka and gluten-free lunches - the experience of an IVY host organization

Volunteers are one of the two main actors of IVY, guess who is the other actor? Of course: host organizations! Curious to know more about “being on the other side”? What was the experience for our mentors Greta, Filippo and Alice from Eurac Research? Here are some questions you always wanted to ask, but you never dared to!

  • How did you get to know about this programme?

  • Greta: My colleague forwarded me the email with the call

  • Filippo and Alice: I was informed by Sofia from Eurac’s internal Project Development Office

  • Which was your first reaction to the IVY programme (be honest!)?

  • Filippo: Oh cool! We can use it for the “dirty work”

  • Alice: Great programme! Shame that our project is too “nerdy” for hosting a volunteer.

  • What did you do to convince the volunteer to choose to work for your project?

  • Filippo: Actually, Angelica applied to work in my project. I think she decided to join our project because it is a “hot” topic and it touches several social, economic and legal issues.

  • Alice: We tried to understand Lukasz’s background, his expectations, and suggested how the collaboration with our project could help enrich this background and fulfil these expectations. We were honest all the way!

  • Have you ever thought: Oh God, what will I ask them to do once they arrive at Eurac?!

  • Greta: Yes, at the beginning. But in the end, we had a lot of work!

  • Alice: I thought about it quite regularly throughout the period Lukasz spent with us. It was also important to negotiate adjustments of the tasks and modes on the collaboration once he was here and our reciprocal needs became clearer.

  • Youths always bring new ideas and new approaches, what did they teach you?

  • Filippo: Angelica showed us that, even if you are not completely inside of a topic, you can learn and give a good contribution. She taught us that everything is possible!

  • Alice: I suddenly was asked questions about the project and my work nobody had ever asked before. That was refreshing! We definitely learned online presentation and communication tools we never heard of before, and how to take good selfies.

  • Tell us about the moment in which you thought: Wow….

  • Filippo: When Angelica provided us a lot of articles, videos, newspapers titles about the social impact of human-wildlife conflicts, extremely useful for our project.

  • Greta: I think it was when Birgit came with a perfect structured excel-list of tasks she has to prepare for our kick- off conference which I mentioned her before. I was really impressed.

  • Alice: When Lukasz joined our partner meeting and immediately participated and raised his point in the plenary discussions.

  • EU programmes often mean long applications. How was the bureaucracy?

  • Filippo: For me very easy as there was just one paper to fill in with information concerning the project, Eurac and the type of know-how I was looking for

  • Greta: Not worth mentioning!

  • Tell us the truth, were you a good mentor?

  • Filippo: Angelica should say that.. but I think so!

  • Greta: I hope yes. I believe I was.

  • Alice: I am not in the position of answering this question, I am afraid. Usually I am quite good at listening and investing on people’s skills and preferences when shaping tasks for them. I hope this was appreciated also by Lukasz.

  • How did you integrate the volunteer in the project team?

  • Greta: I brought Birgit everywhere! I included her in all project meetings, skype meetings and everything I had to do, not to forget lunches and coffee breaks!

  • Alice: After two weeks with us, Lukasz joined a project meeting with all AlpES’ partners in the Aosta Valley. That was a nice social opportunity to get to know the Eurac team, and the project partners at the same time.

  • Every country has its own coffee: espresso, Filterkaffee, Irish coffe. Beyond the research, which was the impact of the cultural exchange in the team work?

  • Greta: Birgit and I were connected through our gluten free lunches, together with another colleague working on the GaYA project. We broke the ice when I explained her the lunch options at Eurac. She replied: “Ah ok, you know, I am bit complicated…” And I thought: It seems familiar to me J

  • Alice: We learned a lot about Polish wodka!

  • The host organization does not receive any budget. Would you redo this experience anyway? How many hours did you invest in the whole project?

  • Filippo: Of course we could do that again. Being a mentor has been a new experience also for me, so I tried to be available every time Angelica needed me. I hope I made a good work

  • Alice: Definitely. Probably I would consider more carefully the timing in relation with my own schedule. Mentoring takes a lot of time, and during Lukasz’s stay my to-do list was nearly exploding.

  • The IVY experience is coming to an end, what advice can you give to Lukasz, Angelica and Birgit for their future?

  • Filippo: I really appreciate your will to be a volunteer; it is not something you find every day. Your presence and work taught us the importance of determination and motivation – regardless of the money you may get out of it

  • Greta: Stay open minded, creative, diligent and friendly as you are!

  • Alice: Keep up the same curiosity that moved you to engage in this experience.

Eurac Research is looking forward to host new volunteers. Do you want to be the next one? Stay tuned!

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