by Ingvild Grini


Goodbye to Ingvild

We are already in late August, some people are saying that the summer has finally come to Brussels, and I’m sadly packing down my office desk to move to Norway to continue my studies. Most newcomers to Brussels complain about the rain, the cold wind and the grey sky – for me Brussels has been nothing like this: every day in the office I have been met with team work, warm smiles and colourful perspectives.

Developing new skills
My year started with the EFIL Intercultural Dialogue Day event in Brussels, gathering a wide network of AFS friends in European institutions, other NGOs, students and more. Together, the EFIL office proved that we could as well just have catering here every day with excellent quiz entertainment, table service and a bar! Then, I went to the Training for Trainers, representing AFS Norway, where I and 22 other AFS volunteers from around Europe, held training sessions on Active Citizenship for UK volunteers. We got to take part in the work towards developing an AFS organisation in the UK , thus in the future give AFS educational exchange opportunities to a broader group of young people.

Discovering different interests
One of my biggest projects this year was the MIRAI programme with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Japan, AFS Japan and 150 students from Europe and Central Asia. It was an incredible experience to, in such a short period of time, communicate and suddenly feel strongly connected to 150 people, a fresh part of the world (Central Asia) and discovering wonderful AFS staff and volunteers in AFS Japan.

In the Islam in Europe seminar, I was the rapporteur observing AFS volunteers from Europe and Northern Africa being passionate about the mission of AFS and fighting Islamophobia.

A wonderful adventure
The adventure of the year, has definitely been the EFIL Volunteer Summer Summit in Venice, Italy. With the highest participation number ever, and 41 different AFS partners present, it was the perfect starting point for a perfect summer. Though, we had challenges on the way – and many of you have received a high number of e-mails from me, when 290 people were gathered in San Servolo to open the VSS 2016 – I knew this would be an unforgettable week.

So many other activities, training events, experiences could be added – like the European Citizenship Trimester Programme (ECTP), the Global Compentence Certificate (GCC), AFS Portugal 60 years anniversary, EFIL staff retreat… the list just goes on! And then there are all the things in between that will be missed – the good colleagues, the addictive chocolate, the Magnifica coffee machine, the lunch discussions and the laughter.

Thank you EFIL family for being the perfect host!