Panel: Johann Agius (Dr Klown/Insite), Steven Mifsud (EUPA), Maria Borg (Aġenzija Żgħażagħ), Naomi Bugre (KNZ)
Moderator: Daniel Benson Camilleri
Highlights of the debate
• Volunteering is a learning experience that creates well-rounded individuals and improves soft skills.
• Seeing how voluntary work is regarded as a team building activity, certain companies are deeming it as compulsory for their employees.
• Lack of activism is a serious problem and young people seem to be rather disengaged. Perhaps the sole priority is given to formal education and academia, and voluntary work is completely put aside. However, it cannot be denied that time for social media and series binge watching is always found.
• A positive attitude towards volunteering must be instilled from a young age.
• Active involvement for the sole purpose of a good-looking CV defeats the purpose. Under such circumstances, the interest eventually dwindles away and the beautiful feeling of helping out and giving back is never truly experienced.
• Opportunities for European youth to volunteer both locally and abroad are countless.
• The priority of youth workers must be that of constantly encouraging young people to leave their comfort zone and take up the challenge of voluntary work.
The sentiment of the debate was that volunteering has invaluable benefits. It is a learning experience that creates wellrounded individuals and improves soft skills. It was even described as the gift that keeps on giving. A point that arose was that of introducing volunteering as a compulsory activity by education institutions. This is already being done by certain companies who regard volunteer work as a team building activity.
So many individuals within voluntary organisations dedicate countless hours to organize activities and events that are engaging, however, students do not involve themselves and seem to not be driven and willing to actively participate.
What is the reason for this? Primarily, formal education is given the only priority and attention is directed solely on academia. Volunteering is regarded as a waste of time. The comment that perhaps social media replaced the need for human touch was indeed a weighted one. It was observed that young people find countless hours a day to spend on social media, but blame a full plate for not participating in voluntary extra-curriculars. The speakers couldn’t stress enough that a positive attitude towards volunteering must be instilled from a young age and that a good example set by elders is definitely the best teacher in this case. Active involvement for the sole purpose of a good looking CV defeats the purpose and under such circumstances the interest eventually dwindles away and the feeling of helping out and giving back is never truly experienced.
Opportunities for European youth to volunteer both locally and abroad are countless. The priority of youth workers must be that of constantly encouraging young people to leave their comfort zone and take up the challenge of voluntary work.