ME+NTOR in Pistes Solidaires in Pau, France – Alexandra Jitariuc

Between 3rd and 11th of March 2018, I and my colleague, Dana, participated in the job shadowing project hosted by Pistes Solidaires in Pau, France within the project ME+NTOR coordinated by A.C.T.O.R. Pistes Solidaires is an non-profit organization which develops more European projects in the fields of youth and lifelong learning.

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From the beginning I really enjoyed Pau, it is a colorful city, clean with a great view over the Pyrenees Mountains. Before the arrival, we received the agenda of the activities that we were supposed to attend during that week and Soha Jammal, a member from the staff was a constant support and guide for us. In the first day, we had the chance to meet with some volunteers and together we made a cultural visit to the castle of Pau and at the Museum of Beaux Arts. During this week we had several meetings and activities, we become familiar with the departments of the organization, as well as its structure. It was a really pleasure to meet some of the volunteers, they explained us individually their role in the organization, how is their relationship with their coordinator, mentor. What I find interesting is the fact that they have an internal mentor which is part of the organization and they can get support any time they need regarding the tasks which should be fulfilled and an external mentor to whom they meet from time to time to follow up their learning process. Jutta who is an external mentor joined us in Pau and in Bayonne and she was explaining to us her role in coordinating all the volunteers.

We were invited to attend some activities held by EVS volunteers (Language Café, animation and cultural presentation about Ireland in a school). The whole experience was enriching because we had meetings with local partners where Pistes Solidaires is sending volunteers, not only in Pau, but also in Bayonne and Anglet. There we met the coordinators, as well as the volunteers: they explained us their role in dealing with EVS volunteers, what it means to be a mentor, taking into account the fact that each local partner was involved in different activity. Personally, I liked a lot the type of activities that a volunteer from Latvia was doing at the University of Pau: she was recording and editing the concerts held inside the university. We saw also an illustration exhibition in the cultural space which they have for this kind of activity. In Bayonne we met another volunteer from Ireland which was in charge to help the team organizing the same type of cultural events. I liked the fact that the two universities are communication on cultural level, if one musician is playing in Pau, usually goes also in Bayonne.

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One of the highlights of this project were the meetings we had with Soha regarding different practices of mentoring tools, she shared with us different methods used with eh volunteers before the departure to a hosting organization, how she follows up their learning process and also how the experience of the volunteers once they are back. I like d a lot a tool called Comp-pass which for now is available only for some countries. It evaluates the soft skills and it has a online platform well structured in which the volunteer fills out certain competencies, but also Soha can be a coach for them and can make comments and give support by having access in a special section on this website.

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Other great points of the experience were the visit in Biarritz, at the ocean, the dinners and launch with the staff members, the great welcoming and warm of everyone. Overall, it was a very good experience in which I learned new tools to apply with the volunteers in my activity as a mentor and also I had the chance to meet a very dedicated team and volunteers. Thank you everyone.

Alexandra Jitariuc

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