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Polska Fundacja im. Roberta Schumana

description of organisation

Polska Fundacja im. Roberta Schumana is a non-governmental and non-political organization. Our aim is to encourage (Polish) citizens to actively participate in the process of European integration. The Foundation develops programs teaching how to make use of the opportunities given by the EU membership. In addition, we cooperate with a variety of institutions within the EU and outside it in order to become more familiar with and acknowledge democratic values.

Objectives of the Foundation are the following:
" supporting political and social actions connected with development of democracy in Poland and with involvement in the process of common Europe formation,
" scientific and educational activity, culture related activity, activity in the area of natural environment conservation, training and promotional activity connected with independent social, political and economic movements,
" provision of support to actions carried out in favor of education and cultural development.

The Foundation's mission is realised through:
" Stimulating and increasing civic actions, cooperating with representatives from various social circles in order to increase the support for European integration and active participation in shaping the future of Europe.
" Fostering the process of development of fully aware democratic and active European society through disseminating information on EU policies, aims, objectives and values and strengthening social and political dialogue reflecting Poland's place in Europe and its European identity.
" Mobilising and supporting civic activities of youth groups in their local communities.
" Facilitating information flow among NGOs and European School Clubs focusing on youth development in the open, democratic, European society.

Activities of the Foundation include organizing conferences, seminars, debates and discussions on different topics, trainings for journalists and local community activists, coordinating a network of European School Clubs and organizing cultural exchange projects by actively involving in European volunteer movement. Part of the activities of the Foundation are directed to promote democracy and active citizenship in EU neighboring countries. The biggest and most popular annual event organized by the Foundation are the "Polish European Meetings", where thousands of activists from different civic organizations meet and exchange their ideas and information. Together we walk down the streets of Warsaw in the so called "Schuman Parade". These Meetings are regarded as one of the most important annual event on European matters in Poland and an acknowledged platform for cooperation between NGOs, as well as a meeting and working place for politicians and experts on the currently most important issues.

motivation and evs experience

European Voluntary Service (EVS) strictly corresponds with the mission of Polska Fundacja im. Roberta Schumana (from here on referred to as "Foundation"), which is to mobilize European citizens to more active participation and envolvement in the creation of our common reality. The Foundation has been actively involved in the EVS programme as a hosting, coordinating and sending organization since 2000. Every year we send about 20 young people to volunteer abroad. As a coordinating organization we annually support 12 people in 5 different host organizations. Additionally we host 2 volunteers each year in the Foundation's office. Our experience has shown that EVS projects are not only highly valuable and beneficial for the volunteers, the organizations and communities directly involved in it, but that this programme also develops solidarity, promotes tolerance and increases the level of active citizenship in Europe. Seeing many positive effects of this programme we are highly motivated to continue our involvement in EVS both as sending, as well as host and coordinating organization.
Bearing in mind that in the framework of various projects the Foundation cooperates with a wide range of organizations all over Poland and abroad, we want to use these contacts to spread information about EVS and help less experienced organizations to develop their own EVS projects. Moreover, besides cooperation with the Programme countries, one of our priorities is to strengthen our cooperation also with Partner countries, especially in the Eastern Europe and Caucasus. Together with our partners in Armenia, Azerbeijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine we have established various hosting projects for Polish volunteers in the past years.

project environment

A. Project environment:

The Foundation was set up in January 1991 and its main aims are to encourage Polish citizens to actively participate, promote opportunities created by the Polish membership in the Community, foster the values of the European Union and to strengthen civil society in Poland. The Foundation cooperates with a wide range of institutions within and outside the EU concentrating on promoting political and social initiatives focusing on the development of democracy. In this process, it supports cultural, scientific and educational organizations that actively contribute to the development of closer bonds between Poland, EU institutions and other EU Member States as well as the infrastructure of NGOs active in similar fields of work. The Foundation is named after Robert Schuman - a great visionary and man of action, thinker and statesman, business activist and one of the Founding Fathers of the New Europe.
The office of the Foundation is located in the very centre of Warsaw. On a regular basis there are 10 staff members and about 10 volunteers working in the Foundation. Usually there are also 2-3 foreign (EVS) volunteers working in our office, involved in various projects. Most of the people working in the Foundation are young, many of them are still students. The atmosphere in the Foundation is friendly, open and supportive of initiatives. Most of the projects are implemented working in a team supervised by project managers. Each volunteer in the Foundation has their own supervisor. The Foundation's office is opened on weekdays from 8.30 to 16.30, nevertheless, sometimes people stay longer at work or come to work on weekends whenever important events are approaching. There are regular staff meetings, where all the workers and volunteers meet to plan the activities work for the next weeks. Besides that there are some informal events organized by the workers or volunteers of the Foundation (common activities or parties), which are good for integration.
Warsaw - Poland's largest city has been the capital for four centuries - with a rich history and fascinating present, is located in the heart of Poland, close to the geometrically calculated centre of Europe. Warsaw today is a busy metropolis, the seat of the highest national authorities, the most important administrative, scientific and cultural centre of the country as well as one of the main industrial and business centres. Foreign and international agencies are located here, as well as the seats of national political, professional, economic, social, artistic and religious organizations. Warsaw offers volunteers a possibility to spend their free time the way they like the best. Numerous theatres, cinemas and dozens of museums and galleries contribute to its rich and high-quality cultural offerings. There are plenty of cultural and sports events, more and more accessible with little financial contribution.

B. Proposed activities for EVS volunteers:

The main tasks of the volunteers would be connected with promotion of European integration process (as a political as well as a social process) in Poland and motivation of young people to become more active citizens.

The main areas, where we plan to involve volunteers in are:

1. Cooperation with European School Clubs (ESC) - informal unions between the students and teachers in different type of schools. The Foudnation has a database and contact with over 400 ESCs in Poland and other countries. Volunteers travel all around Poland to give presentations and workshops about their own countries (traditions, history, educational system, young people's lifestyles) and the EU. Apart from this, we involve volunteers in projects targetting or supporting European Clubs. Among other initiatives, International Meetings of European Clubs, which we try to organize regularly has become a reference in the promotion of European values and active citizenship, creating a solid network among schools and organization across the Old Continent. Volunteers help organizing events, can try themselves in planning, preparing and facilitating workshops/games and generally learn more about project management.

2. EVS Info Point - as part of regular tasks, volunteers are available to young people interested in voluntary service. Foundation is well known in Poland and a lot of people call or drop by the office seeking information about EVS or other possibilities of volunteeering abroad. Volunteers could set one day a week and share their experience as well as spread information about possibilities the EU provides that promote youth mobility. Volunteers could have one-to-one meetings or organize informational group meetings in the Foudnation.

3. Help in managing Foundation's website and social networks accounts - help in the preparation of information for the website, writing short descriptions of their visits in European Clubs, describing their EVS experience (life and work in the Foundation and Poland), researching and sharing their view of current events in Europe,Poland or their own countries, etc.
Sometimes we ask volunteers for translations of materials from the volunteers' mother tongue or to help preparing promotional materials of Foudnation's projects (e.g. leaflets, PR for events).

4. The Polish European Meetings - the biggest annual event organized by the Foundation. These Meetings usually take place in May and as consist of many different events - conferences, seminars, concerts, international meetings, Schuman Parade and the "Schuman Village", it requires a lot of work to prepare it. The volunteers would be very welcome to help by organizing particular parts of the Polish European Meetings. Together with the people from the Foundation they could help to organize an international meeting of young people that usually accompanies the Polish European Meetings and be involved in a wide range of activities. At the same time, this event also gives the volunteer the chance to establish contact with a great variety of youth and student organizations being, therefore, a vehicle of integration in the Polish society.

Apart from help by the above mentioned programs, we can offer the volunteers a chance to get involved also in other projects of the Foundation. The volunteers could help by organizing conferences, seminars, discussions, simulation games, thematic evenings, campaigns, trainings, etc. Recognizing their potential we also invite volunteers to help us establish new contacts in their home countries or regions with whom the Foundation or, for example, European Clubs could develop future initiatives.

The volunteers will be encouraged to come up with their own ideas and make their own projects during their stay in Poland. The Foundation will give them the necessary tools to build a consistent project and provide support through all stages of the process. As the Foundation als9o coordinates activities of volunteers hosted in other organizations, all volunteers are encouraged also to contribute suggestions on how to make the participation of volunteers in their host organizations more enjoyable. We also work on integration and organize so called "Schuman volunteeers'" meetings.

Thanks to participation in our projects the young people will have the chance to learn many new things, develop new skills and competencies. Some of them include:
" Greater understanding and appreciation for Polish culture - volunteers will be granted both formal and non-formal opportunities to learn about specific elements of the culture thanks to appropriate training after arrival, participating in office meetings, meetings with local partners, participation in planning activities and implementation of projects with local partners and in local communities all over Poland.
" Understanding and working knowledge of the Polish language: Through regular language lessons in the beginning, daily practice with all staff members and, most importantly, immersion in the Polish culture the volunteers can gain a workable knowledge of the Polish language.
" Project design and management skills - through implementation of a large scale, long-term projects volunteers will gain/improve their knowledge and skills in the field of Project Design and Management. They will gain practical experience while working with the coordinators in the Foundation that have experience in it and have successfully carried out many large scale, long-term projects. These skills can be of great value for volunteers, especially those who pursue a future career within the third sector.
" Teaching and presentation skills - as part of activities involve non-formal teaching or training in schools the volunteers will have the chance to gain teaching and presentation skills. Their supervisors and/or other employees of the Foundation will be available to work with volunteers to help them in this process. Feedback from teachers and especially students over the last few years has been very positive and the visits proved to be extremely rewarding for the volunteers. Last but not the least, it also represents a unique chance to get to know the country and its regional diversity.
" Appreciation of own culture, respect for other cultures and creation of European awareness - as appreciation of one's culture is greatly aided by comparative experience, living and working in different culture will allow volunteers to gain greater insight and appreciation for their own culture and the diversity of European cultures in general.

C. Volunteer profiles and recruitment process:

The volunteers can be of any gender and any background. The most important thing is that they are highly motivated to learn, opened to new experience, try to be creative, responsible and communicative. We invite volunteers which are inspired to live in Warsaw and take part in Foundation's activities. We ask for volunteers which are excited also to travel around Poland, visit schools and give presentations to school pupils. No previous experience, knowledge and skills are required for carrying out the tasks of the project activities as all the necessary skills and knowledge for carrying out the tasks can be gained during the project. The volunteers should be open-minded, support the idea of European integration and Foundation's mission and willing to share their own personal culture with school children. In order to be able to do so volunteers need to try and learn Polish during their EVS.
We are open to cooperate with all kind of candidates (and sending organizations). To apply for our projects the volunteers should send us their CV, motivation letter and something additional that would present them. It could be a short video clip, presentation, slideshow or anything else that the volunteer would prepare on their own in order to present their motives to volunteer in the Foundation.

D. Number of volunteers hosted: 2-4

E. Risk prevention, protection and safety:

The Foundation already has experience with hosting EVS volunters so staff members are aware about possible dangers and obstacles for the volunteers while doing the EVS project. It is important to note that the people in the Foundation have experience of work with people, especially youth. They work with volunteers and in international team on a daily basis.

During the EVS period each volunteer will have a supervisor that would be responsible for planning volunteers' tasks and support them, help integrate in the organization and monitor the development of the volunteer. Each volunteer would have also a mentor that would be the person helping the volunteer in different issues not directly related to working tasks (personal issues). Mentor would be a person not directly related to the Foundation, which would also provide another channel for integration. Should volunteers have any problems with host organization, the mentor would help to solve them. As most of the people working in the Foundation are young and friendly, the volunteers can talk also with the other staff members and volunteers about their problems, needs and ideas.
To avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, we always encourage our volunteers to say it honestly, if they are not happy with something from the very beginning and not to wait too long with their doubts and disappointment. The supervisor and mentor and the other workers of the Foundation are ready and open for critical remarks if they are constructive and come from the side of the volunteers and expect also the volunteer to have similar attitude. We introduced a monthly evaluation in writing and have regular meetings with volunteers.

Furthermore, the Foundation coordinates activities of around 30 volunteers in Poland and other countries. Together with volunteers sent by the Foundation form a group called "Schuman volunteers", for which the Foundation organizes common events, provides opportunities for common projects and participation in different activities. They present a support group for each other by sharing experience, help each other out with tips and information.

inclusion topics

This organisation is willing to involve volunteers who face situations which make their participation in activities more difficult, from the following categories for different types of project:

  • Educational difficulties
  • Social obstacles
  • Cultural differences

Volunteering project

Project name Project Dates Deadline Status
Volunteers in the Special Kindergarten No 213
A total of 0 week(s) during the period
Sep 2015 to Jun 2016
01/09/2015 - 30/06/2016
06/01/2015 closed