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Simulation Exercise, Exercise, Presentation, Group Building Activity, Info session

Mandala of the Perfect Volunteer (introducing an idea through concept mapping)

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Make future EVS volunteers reflect about voluntary work and introduce relevant concepts related to the subject through artistic expression in order to promote discussion and debate.

Description of the tool

• To explore and discover the concept of voluntary work in its complex construction and deconstruction, starting from the perception of participants and their personal identities, environments and realities.
• To raise awareness among participants about volunteering as an option for active participation in civil society.
• Promote self-reflection and learning of the concepts behind Voluntary Work.
• Encourage discussion and debate about the topic.

a) A slide presentation of different Mandalas with music will be projected during the workshop (provided by the trainer)
b) The trainer will present the concept of Mandala (from Sanskrit "circle", "realization"), a graphic representation of our perception of a concept or idea as a microcosm of relationships (individual actions) in relation to the universe (civil society/world).
c) The trainer will prepare and distribute sets of coloured cards with 7 basic concepts written on them (self, society, ideology, time, training, resources / money, give / receive).
d) The trainer will draw a Mandala of concentric circles with different concepts related to volunteering, as an example.
e) Participants are divided into groups of 3 persons and each group will be given a flipchart sheet to draw their own Mandala placing the concepts of the cards and the relationship among those to create a concept map. Each group may add 2 concepts they deem necessary. 35 minutes will be allocated for the design and discussion within each group.
f) Upon completion, each group will present their Mandala as a tool to explain voluntary action with an emphasis on personal experience (3 min each)
g) The trainer will guide and facilitate the presentations towards the more appropriate concepts and take down notes on the “extra” concepts on the two blank cards.
h) The posters will be hung on the walls and the participants will be asked to have a look at others’ Mandalas.
i) Each group will be asked to give their opinion on the topic, and the “extra” concepts chosen as their personal contribution to their EVS experience.
j) Debate in plenary (10 min)


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SALTO cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

Tool overview

Mandala of the Perfect Volunteer (introducing an idea through concept mapping)

This tool is for

Depends on group It was originally designed for EVS volunteers (groups of 3 people)(around 24 people in total)

and addresses

Voluntary Service, YOUTH in ACTION (YiA) programme, Intercultural Learning, Personal Development, Evaluation

It is recommended for use in:

Action 2 (European Voluntary Service)
Action 4.3 (Training and Networking)

Materials needed:

Facilities: room with space prepared for meditation for each group and later to work on the mandalas (floor mats, tables, chairs, etc.). and enough room on the walls to hung posters (flipchart size)
Materials: flipchart sheets (10 sheets), colour sheets (1 packet), colour markers (60 markers), crayons (24), glue bars (5), colour glitter, magazines to clip, scissors, tape and blue tack, data projector, screen, computer and speakers


90 minutes or more depending of the time allocated for final debate.

Behind the tool

The tool was created by

Juan Ratto-Nielsen

in the context of

This tool was designed for the workshop on Voluntary Work in the EVS pre-departure training course, as a way to enquiry volunteers about voluntary work and to introduce relevant concepts related to the subject through artistic expression.

The tool has been experimented in

EVS pre-departure training courses with the Spanish National Agency

The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Juan Ratto-Nielsen (on 22 November 2009)

and last modified

1 June 2010

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