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Strong Neighbors: volunteer exchanges at the DE-CZ border

What?

The Strong Neighbors project aims to create a network of young volunteers aged 18-26-years-old in Saxony (DE) and Northern Bohemia (CZ). Through this network, young people are encouraged to develop their intercultural and linguistic skills and knowledge of neighboring regions, while also gaining valuable life experience and broadening their perspectives. It can also serve as a tool to mitigate the emigration of young people from the project area to other regions.

More specifically, the project allows young people from the regions of Saxony and Northern Bohemia to volunteer for a year in the neighboring region. Volunteers can choose among different associations, mainly active in the social field, such as centres for people with disabilities, schools, kindergartens, but also cultural institutions. Volunteers support the organizations carrying out different tasks, and have 5 hours per week reserved for language education. Additionally, volunteers can also implement a mini project on their own initiative.

 

Where?

Dresden (Germany) and Ústí nad Labem (Czech Republic)

Strong Neighbors

How?

The project started in 2016 in the framework of the Interreg Saxony-Czech Republic with an ERDF contribution of about €400 000. The project was led by the Paritätische Freiwilligendienste Sachsen GmbH, an accredited voluntary services agency, and the other partner was the Volunteer Center, Ústí nad Labem (CZ).

 

Results

Strong Neighbors has laid the basis for a binational voluntary service, creating stable structures for the long-term continuation of a joint volunteer exchange. Thanks to the project, some of the bureaucratic and administrative barriers for voluntary exchange have been removed (e.g. simplified exchanges procedures, agreements to host volunteers, etc.).

In total, 31 organizations from both sides of the border participated in the project. During the project period (January 2016 - August 2019), 24 people from the Czech Republic and 31 from Germany did a voluntary service for one year in Saxony or Northern Bohemia. Seminars in both German and Czech were held for the volunteers. As a result, a manual for binational voluntary service has been developed. The manual consists of six guidelines and contains the main lessons learnt from the project.   

The successful experiences people had, as part of Strong Neighbors, generated long-term demand for the project. The partners involved are committed to go on with the voluntary exchanges even after the end of the project, with the goal of facilitating neighbor relationships as a means of promoting multilingualism across the border. A new plan for Strong Neighbors 2.0 will be implemented.

 

Additional information on https://www.sn-cz2020.eu/de/projekte/gefoerderte_projekte/Starke_Nachbarn.jsp

Tags
Multilingualism education employment