We travel to change ideas, not places. More and more people decide to take a year off to try the social volunteering experience and make an impact on the society. Why? There are several reasons. Take a break after or before college (or from work), get to know another country and its culture, meet new people…
Social volunteering at Hostelling International Norway
The HI philosophy is to inspire travellers to promote sustainablee values, create a peaceful environment and open minds. That’s why Hostelling International has active social volunteering programs in many countries.
HI Norway has a program taking place in the Western part of the country – the “Social Volunteering Program”. Here, volunteers can stay between 6 weeks and 3 months at different hostels in Western Norway. The volunteers always start in the beautiful city of Bergen, learning the basics of the program and making various activities for the guests such as city walks or common dinners.
The volunteers’ experiences
Siyu Qin, China – Social volunteer in Bergen Montana
I’ve alway been a huge fan of the hostels’ vibe. You can meet so many fabulous people, whilst we are all passengers. So, I decided to be a social volunteer in the HI Hostel in Bergen.
I wasn’t the type of guy who’s crazy for outdoor sports, for instance, hiking. But after some hiking with the guests, I was so obsessed. One can never get used to such wonderful thing. When you see people’s face, with joy or surprise, when you show them some stunning view, or tell them a funny story, the joy that you received, is doubled.
The help from everyone in the hostel was priceless. To say all their names, and all the moments we shared, may probably take forever. But I cried, when giving goodbyes, so many times. I will always remember you guys. That memory, that experience is precious. I think, hopefully, I’ve become a better me.
If I have the chance, I would love to do it all again. I miss Montana, my Montana family, Bergen, Norway… I shall come back, maybe as a visitor, maybe as a social volunteer, who knows. Things change, people change, but I wish everything that I’ve cherished is still there.
Krisztina, Hungary – Social volunteer in Bergen Montana
I have done different volunteering projects before in Norway, but during my five months at the Hi-Hostel-Program in Bergen and Voss, I felt that I have found my place. I have not only met unbelievably kind people from around the world, but through my new local friends I managed to get to know the “non-touristic” Norway as well.
I hiked more than in my entire life. Climbing hills, hiking to a lake or biking to a waterfall became natural as the weeks passed. And suddenly weather did not matter that much anymore. It was very easy to find peace and to get social as well. The helpfulness and support of people I met really touched me.
I enjoyed a lot the “coffee and cookies” because that was the moment when I got to know half of the people I hiked with later on.
I am extremely grateful for all the inspiration and ideas these activities gave me. In my opinion the whole volunteering-experience changes you for the better. You learn things that no university or workplace can teach you.
I wish more people could participate and that more Hi-hostels would join this program so that more tourists and volunteers can experience Norway in another way.
Does it sound good? You can check out the website www.volunteering.no for more information
Text by María de la Cruz and Katarina Vlkova