This is a reference for Mihaela Amariei

On-arrival Training (O.A.T.)

The training activity took place
in Predeal, Romania
organised by NA Bucharest

Aims & objectives

On-arrival training takes place upon arrival in the host country. It introduces volunteers to their host country and their host environment, and helps them to get to know each other.

The training course had 4 major objectives:
1. The volunteers described the role of every partner involved in each step of the EVS project and the rights and responsibilities of the project implementation team: Volunteer, HO, SO, CO mentor, AN;
2. The volunteers identified how different aspects of culture have an impact on their learning experience in an EVS project;
3. The volunteers identified and deal with the specific aspects or Romanian context (history, geography, myths, civil society, social life, behaviors, mentalities, etc);
4. The volunteers identified their personal motivation and learning objectives connected to the activities to be performed during the volunteer stage.

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

We had 22 participants coming from 13 countries (Holland, Macedonia, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Estonia, France, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Turkey, and Argentina) that were doing their EVS stage in Romania in 14 different NGOs.
They were very different which made the course more challenging and fruitful. The differences were given by gender, age, educational background, personal and professional development level, motivation, level of understanding English language, but they had one important thing in common which was their willingness to learn and experience new things about themselves and new cultures.

Training methods used & main activities

I am going to give examples from the 3rd and 4th day of the training course.
I used only non-formal learning methods adapted according to the training course objectives.
In the 3rd day we addressed the thematic about Romania (A quarter of Romania, Culture shock, Romania survival skills) and also the EVS budget. I used method like: puzzle game with the sequence of steps and definitions of Intercultural Learning followed by open discussions on the relation of each step and the volunteers experience so far. I introduced specific elements from Romanian context through a quiz on history, geography, culture, personalities, education. For culture shock we introduced the Intercultural shock curve, presented on flipchart and discussed with the participants. Survival techniques in Romania was approached by the role play method, based on 4 cases; the groups created a sketch on various life situations in Romania: transportation, visiting, shopping, lifestyle.
EVS budget was approached by the method named “Traveling through Romania”; was presented the EVS budget structure with cost categories. Volunteers were divided into groups and the task was to “organize” a trip in one of the regions of Romania and present both specifics (places to see, sights) and the organization of travel: transport, accommodation, meals. They had to a presentation containing text and images and “sell it” to their colleagues in a 10 minutes plenary group presentation.
Diverse Icebreakers and Energizers were used before, during or after each session according to the group dynamic. Some examples: “Red Riding Hood, hunter, and the wolf”, (outdoor) song (in the forest with peanuts), storm at sea, greetings gestures of Italian culture etc.
On the 4th day, for the EVS Challenges session we used a method named EVS Race. It was organized jointly by all groups of EVS volunteers that were in OAT training course at that moment (3 groups; 80 in totally) through a trip in the forest. Participants were divided into groups and on a predetermined signalized road we posted various possible difficult situations during an EVS placement. Statements were chosen so as to generate discussion group and be discussed from several points of view. Thus, the groups were given different roles and they had to address the situation presented from the perspective of volunteer, mentor, coordinator, host organization, sending organization. The objective was for them to be in an open space, walk and talk about their problems/situations without the trainers close supervision. At the end of the trip we met also outdoor and reflected on each situation they discussed and shared experiences.

Outcomes of the activity

Course objectives were presented from the first session and made a correlation with expectations, contributions and concerns about the course. At the end of the course, before the evaluation session, we returned to their presentation and their degree of fulfillment. The assessments of volunteers appreciated meeting the objectives in a high extent.
We stressed the general context of YiA and EVS, and at the end of the course all volunteers involved were able to pinpoint the roles, rights and responsibilities of each actor involved in EVS. Chosen methods contributed to setting the elements, alternating non-formal methods (role playing, puzzle-play, Mind map etc.) with clear roles and with question and answer session when further clarification was requested.
Topics related to intercultural component and Romanian context were among the most popular in the whole course, the methods used varied: role playing and simulation, quizzes, Q & A, working individually and in small groups, brainstorming. Concepts and more theoretical elements content were presented in a graphical way, more attractive on a flipchart or PowerPoint presentation.

Strengthening learning motivation was correlated with stimulation of volunteers in order to make presentations more creative and varied (the most valuable example is the session dedicated to the design of personal development plan), which was created in a diverse and interesting way by each participant, focusing on skills acquisition and capitalization and transfer of training experiences in other contexts.
All these result we were able to observe and analyze through the evaluations made: observation, short non-formal evaluations after each day, reflection groups. Also at the end of the course we had an evaluation form were participants expressed their opinions regarding all aspects of the training: reaching objectives, utility and structure of content, materials, tasks, methods used, group dynamic, team work, communication, logistics, and trainer’s performance. We received very good qualifications.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I was one of the two trainers. After dividing the tasks with my colleague, my role was to fully or partially prepare, deliver and follow-up on the training course with the participants. Practically I carefully prepared each training sequence for each day, deciding according with the training course agenda and the learning objectives, on the various non-formal methods I will use for each training session. Also I discussed with my colleague the communication process among us which led to a very good networking between us and participants. In the communication process with my fellow colleague I used a strategy based on complementarities and balance regarding the course topics and interventions when necessary. During the course I also proposed changing some non-formal methods adapted according to the needs of the participants. After the course I kept in touch via e-mail with the participants by sending them contact lists of other EVS volunteers and also lots of useful electronic resources for their EVS stage and their personal development process. I also contributed to editing the final report of the course for the NA, uploading the evaluation forms and sending them to the NA.

I worked on this training for 5 days as a full time trainer.

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