The Travelling Trainers Scheme allows EFIL Member Organisations to request the participation of a trainer from the EFIL European Pool of Trainers (EPOT) to take part in national training or volunteer meetings. To encourage exchanges of expertise, interesting methodologies, ideas and concepts, EFIL funds a limited number of the Travelling Trainers per year. EFIL pays for the travel but does not cover the other expenses such as preparation, accommodation, etc. which is covered by the AFS organisation hosting the event.

Member organisations are invited to contact the EFIL Secretariat for more information.

At the end of June, Thomas Lacroix (EPOT member and AFS France volunteer) attended a volunteer training focused on orientations organised by AFS Belgium French Speaking, as a Travelling Trainer. We asked Thomas to tell us about his experience.

Thomas at the EFIL Volunteer Summer Summit 2016 in Italy.

Kia Ora everyone,

I’m Thomas from France, near the Belgian border. I went to New Zealand in 2003 and I’ve been a volunteer for AFS since I came back. I’ve been mostly animating weekends until I moved to the North of France 6 years ago, where I became chapter president. I’m now a member of the national board. On the side, I’ve been a trainer in France for four years now, and I joined the EPOT two years ago. Oh, and I’m an engineer, but who cares about boring stuff.

When I heard AFS Belgium French Speaking needed a French speaking traveling trainer for a day, I instantly thought it was for me: I speak (am) French, I live one hour away from Brussels, and the topic was right within my field of expertise: orientation camps animation. It was fairly short notice, and I worked closely with Stephane Jonlet, the Orientations and Projects Co-ordinator from the Belgian office, to design a training session that would best suit these objectives, and the 3 hours I was allowed.

So, I showed up in Brussels on the 30 June and Stephane drove me to Leuven from there. We had a bit of a chat in the car to set the last things up and to get to know each other. The first hour and a half went smoothly, it was mostly setting general rules about what to do and how to do it during orientation camps, and the group was fairly active. Having experienced volunteers within the participants group helped quite a bit 🙂

We then had a lunch break, and I was very disappointed not to get French fries in Belgium. Everybody knows that French fries only are French by the name, and that the truly tasty ones are found in Belgium!

Thomas delivering a training session at the French SuperFormation in 2016 in France.

The next hour and a half was about running activities, focusing on the setting, the animation itself, and the debriefing. The two experienced volunteers were observing on the side to make constructive criticism on how it went. It went well and we had good laughs! For it’s not because you do something serious that you have to do it seriously…

It was a fairly basic training so all in all, nothing too complicated. But it’s always interesting to me to do it in another AFS context. Every AFS is different, and do things differently. I’m glad I prepared the event well so I didn’t tell things based on my French experience that would be false in Belgium. I also learnt quite a bit about how things work there, picking up some ideas on what to do (and what to not do 😀 ) in France. For AFS Belgium French Speaking, having a travelling trainer is a good opportunity to have a different look on their habits. And well, isn’t that what we usually do in AFS?

Cheers to you all,