weltwärts celebrates 15 years of international volunteer service

weltwärts is celebrating 15 years of international volunteer service. Participants past and present look back on their successes and challenges and address questions about the programme’s future. The start of the anniversary year was marked by the 12th open weltwärts stakeholder conference, at which delegates from implementing organisations, volunteer representatives, the weltwärts Coordinating Unit and the German Federal Ministry all exchanged ideas.

160 weltwärts representatives convened to celebrate 15 years of international volunteer service.

This year, weltwärts is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the biggest international volunteer service for young people. Promoting development-related engagement, global learning and working in partnership on an equal footing has been a core focus of the programme since its inception. weltwärts brings people together from Germany, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Eastern Europe, strengthening international cooperation.

The start of the anniversary year was marked by the 12th open weltwärts stakeholder conference. From 31 March to 1 April, 160 representatives from the weltwärts joint operation convened at the Gustav Stresemann Institute in Bonn. After 15 years of the weltwärts programme, those involved looked back on the start of the programme, celebrated their mutual successes and commended each other on the challenges they had overcome. The attendees exchanged knowledge and experiences across several workshops.

weltwärts South-North: an anniversary within an anniversary

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the South-North component of the weltwärts programme. Not only do our volunteers from the North travel to the South, but also vice versa. Every year, hundreds of volunteers from Colombia, Bolivia, South Africa and other countries travel to complete their service with organisations in Germany. Studies carried out on both programme components demonstrate that participating has a lasting impact on volunteers and helps them to develop personally.

In his keynote speech, Benjamin Haas, an academic who had been invited to speak, praised how both the North-South and South-North components have become crucial parts of the weltwärts programme. Representatives from the weltwärts joint operation were also very positive about the South-North exchange component and expressed a desire to see it develop and expand.

The stakeholder conference and four partner conferences all take place on an annual basis, enabling people to meet in person and strengthen their cooperation. This is what makes the weltwärts programme unique: those involved are regularly given a platform to help shape the programme.

In total, there are 130 active sending organisations within the North-South component. Young people’s interest in volunteer service is as high as ever. Now that the coronavirus pandemic has eased, the number of volunteers travelling to the Global South as part of the weltwärts programme has returned to around 2,500. Since 2008, almost 50,000 volunteers have taken part in the weltwärts programme.

The celebrations continue: weltwärts festival in Göttingen

From 31 May to 4 June, the weltwärts festival will transform Göttingen into a meeting place of volunteers and alumni and provide a stage for celebrating and honouring the dedication of all involved. Attendees can expect a varied programme to get involved in, including athletic and cultural elements but, above all, the opportunity to develop new engagement ideas to help us create a more sustainable world.

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