Anna Kalaitsidi: “After my experience as an IVY I would like to focus on solidarity”

"Interreg Volunteer Youth" (IVY) is an action to offer the possibility to young people aged 18-30 to serve as volunteers in cross-border, transnational or interregional Interreg programmes and related projects. 

By Linda Talve
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Volunteers get some valuable professional experience while promoting cooperation and related values across European borders and beyond. Their role varies from project to project and often involves reporting on the tangible achievements of Interreg programmes and projects. In this interview we get to know the experience of Anna Kalaitsidi, who has been working as an Interreg Volunteer Youth in the past few months.

How did you end up as an Interreg Volunteer Youth?

Anna Kalaitsidi. Photo: Eleonora Riera
Anna Kalaitsidi. Photo: Eleonora Riera

I have had the chance to participate in the IVY initiative as a volunteer in EUROTraining Educational Organization, a partner in the MoreThanAJob project , which is financed by the ENI CBC MED Programme. MoreThanAJob aims at reinforcing social and solidarity economy for the unemployed, uneducated and refugees.  It operates in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Italy and Greece.

What did you know about cooperation between European countries before your time as an IVY?

Before my time as an IVY I didn’t know many things about cooperation between European countries. Now I realize the importance of this cooperation. The latest financial crisis in Europe, as well as the unstable financial and political situation in many Mediterranean countries, sorely tested the fundamental applied economic model. The idea for the MoreThanAJob project was born in this framework. The project wishes to bring a change in the way that Social and Solidarity Economy Actors and public institutions collaborate for services to vulnerable groups, including the unemployed, uneducated and newly arrived migrants or refugees.

What kind of work have you done as an IVY?

I have had the chance to be involved in a series of activities that had taken place within the MoreThanAJob Project. I was introduced to the project material and had the chance to study all the available documents and resources. I also participated in the internal project meetings and with the guidance of my mentor I was assigned tasks that would give me a first hand experience in new fields. One thing that I was quite fascinated about is that I had the chance to participate in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assesement for the project that takes place every three months and measures the carbon footprint of the project partner activities. In addition, I had the opportunity to communicate with several project stakeholders in disseminating the project activities and namely the current call for sub-grants that has been published within the project. The objective of this call was to finance Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) Actors-Public Administrations cooperation projects aiming at improving welfare and social services for vulnerable groups in order to increase their opportunities of social and labour inclusion.

Oasis Center for Resilience and Empowerment of Women and Girls operated by UN Women in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo: Christopher Herwig / UN Women

What has been the most impressive example of the power of cooperation that you faced during your time as IVY?

The most impressive example of the power of cooperation was the fact that the sub-grants call takes place in all the countries almost at the same time, and that showed me not only how cross-border cooperation is working but also what it is to be involved in an activity that has a solidarity focus as it is aiming in social, welfare and employment inclusion of vulnerable groups.

Where (in what types of challenges) do you think more cooperation could be needed?

I think that cooperation is key for development as cooperation between local and international actors could promote equity and inclusiveness in communities. By working together, local and international actors can ensure that resources are distributed fairly and everyone is involved in the process.

What can the youth bring into the cooperation scheme?

New ideas, flexibility, improved access to information and of course increased desire for knowledge.

Where do you see your future and how will your experience as an IVY enrich it?

I think that I will continue to learn more about cooperation between European countries. Also, after my IVY experience I would like to participate and be involved in many activities that have a solidarity focus e.g. employment inclusion of vulnerable groups. For this opportunity, I have to thank the IVY team and of course my new colleagues within the MoreThanAJob project team for their support and help. So if anyone out there is offered the chance, I strongly suggest to give it a try and reach out for the IVY opportunities available!