Anas’ experience as an ESC volunteer at ISWI

Anas has joined ISWI e.V. in March 2019 as part of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). As an ESC volunteer, he supported the association and especially the Organising Committee of ISWI 2019 for the period of 6 month. Looking back, we are very grateful for the opportunity to host Anas and the beautiful time we shared.

After leaving, Anas has left us with some words which seek to capture his experience at ISWI.

It’s never a goodbye, it’s always a see you soon…!  Those are the words, that I never seize to repeat whenever an awesome encounter is coming to terms. It’s always hard for me to say goodbye once and for all, I always have hope that one day I will encounter the same people again, and that certain experiences I will relive again. As if I can never let go of something I truly appreciate and treasure. And so is my time at ISWI e.V. My time volunteering as a member of the organising committee of ISWI 2019, is sadly coming to an end, or is it really?

My fondness for ISWI started way earlier than me joining the team. Reading about, and watching videos of what the ISWI team was organising as events, projects and activities, was truly fascinating for me. The impact of such events, and the wide range of people reached, have made me admire the work done, and made my desire to join the team even bigger.I still vividly remember the first day I arrived to the ISWI office. It was a cold, rainy and gloomy Sunday in the small town of Ilmenau. Traveling through the city by train, I was shocked at how empty it was, it was so different from the all-day-everyday crowded and loud streets of Casablanca, Morocco that I am accustomed to. But I later found out that that was just the cover of the book we are told never to judge. The first pages of that book definitely told a different story. As I have been to the ISWI office, I got the chance to meet with other members, with whom I have spoken and started sharing ideas and thoughts already, and I was so amazed by how open minded and diverse everyone was. And you know that feeling when you start reading the first few pages of a book and you get hooked and don’t want to put the book down again. Well that’s what I felt in my first day, and with those first encounters. I didn’t want to put that book down, I wanted to keep reading, and was intrigued to know what was going to follow.

I joined the organization at a time where everyone was in full preparation for ISWI 2019. There were meetings taking place almost everyday. The phone in the office was constantly ringing, loads of emails to reply to and send, and already a lot of planning happening. Everyone was super busy with their own tasks, yet everyone took a little bit of their time to get me accustomed to what I had to do and how to do it, and in my first week already had been given tasks to accomplish. Day after day, there were more tasks to do, more activities to plan and more meetings to attend. It might have been a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun as well. Everyone gave in their best, everyone was of constant support to the others, every time I struggled with something I had people to turn to. Everyone was also constantly cheering each other. This made every moment enjoyable. I could sense the true team spirit that englobed the working environment. I felt welcomed and I felt integrated. I was pushed to think and express myself creatively, I was given the task to, at times, lead certain projects, and some other times even create ones of my own*. It was the first time for me to be part of something of a big scale, being part of the organising committee of the biggest student conference in Germany, is a truly amazing and rewarding experience, the conference in 2019 counted more than 340 student from 77 countries. I had the greatest opportunity to co-host the opening ceremony of the event. I may probably not have the right words to describe how I felt standing in that stage. For a split second, right after I have entered the stage and right before I have said the first words, all of the memories flashed in front of me, all the hard work, the troubles, the failures, the successes, the achievements. There it was in front of us, the result of many efforts put together, and it was truly fascinating. The days that followed were even more exciting, 10 days of fun activities, workshops, lectures and discussions. It was a satisfying moment for all of us to see that what we’ve all worked so hard for, has finally seen the day. Even more satisfying when a huge number of participants showed their admiration for all the events.

The aftermath of the ISWI 2019 were quite emotional for all of us. We have always looked back at all the memories with a wondering smile, looking forward to the next big event to come.  It was never a typical office, and it was never a typical team. They were both quite unique and I will always look back at those moments with admiration. I don’t know if I should smile or cry, or both. This feels like a book with an open ending. Until the next chapters are written, ISWI is a book I will find pleasure reading over and over again, because it’s never a goodbye, it’s always a see you soon!

* e.g. the trailer of ISWI 2019!

We would like to thank Anas for his tireless efforts at ISWI and his great contribution the team spirit we had in preparing ISWI 2019. Without him, it would surely not have been the same!

Finally, we would like to encourage you to read more about the European Solidarity Corps. In short, it´s an EU initiative that creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. Yet, not only Europeans can take part. Here, you can find out more!