For months volunteers all over Europe have been looking forward to the volunteer event of the year: the 8th edition of EFIL’s Volunteer Summer Summit!  Close to 220 enthusiastic and motivated volunteers – a record attendance – from 33 countries gathered in the Youth Education Center in Blossin, near Berlin, for the highlight of this year’s summer. Next to EFIL’s Member Organisations, we were happy to welcome participants from Ghana, South Africa and Brazil, as well as volunteers from Bulgaria, the UK and EIL Ireland.

The topic of this year’s Summer Summit was Democratic Citizenship, focusing on how democratic structures function in different cultures, countries and organisations. The VSS offered space for discussions, critical thinking, best practice sharing, intercultural learning, networking and lots of fun.

Participants enjoyed a wide selection of quality workshops, complemented by the much liked traditional bazaar, a local German night, the community project, fun events and leisure activities of all kinds, and most of all: each other’s company.  Our training track system allowed for an efficient and easy process for the selection of workshops by the participants.

There are no words to describe the commitment and dedication of the teams involved in putting together an event of this size: the prep team, the support team, the trainers.  They all crashed once the Summit was over, and they may need the rest of the summer to recover. J

Following in the footsteps of the 2008 pioneering event in France and the Summits in Turkey 2009, Hungary 2010, Portugal 2011, Latvia 2012, Denmark 2013, Bosnia-Herzegovina 2014, the VSS in Germany has once more confirmed the EFIL Volunteer Summer Summit as the ultimate event for the active AFS volunteers. Once again, the Summit has shown that there is an absolute need for volunteers to share their experiences and challenges, and indeed their whole AFS life, with their peers, and what better than to meet in a superb summer setting, once a year.

At the EFIL office we are saying goodbye to Marin, our “VSS intern” whose name will be forever linked to the Summit 2015 in Germany. We are happy to introduce Ingvild from Norway as the new EFIL VSS intern, starting her work and life in Brussels in September. Welcome, Ingvild!

The VSS keeps on inspiring volunteers across Europe and beyond, and creates lasting friendships. We can’t wait for the VSS 2016! Already now volunteers are making plans to be there. And for those who weren’t present in Germany to witness the announcement of next year’s VSS venue: our partner organisation to host the hottest event in Europe in 2016 will be… Intercultura. The location: Venice!  Trust me, you don’t want to miss this event.