Discovering the Value of Volunteering in Luxembourg

 In STC Luxembourg

I’m a mother of two small adorable, energetic boys, and in 2014 our little family was transported from leafy Hampshire, England to leafy Luxembourg – for a European adventure!

With a bucket load of qualifications in marcomms and project management and a successful CV, I merrily entered into life in Lux expecting to hit the ground running, settle my children into school and toddle off to find a job within the first couple of months. How wrong could I have been!..

As it turns out, giving up my job and moving to a country I knew very little about, where I would unexpectedly struggle to find work and my children would struggle to adapt to the local school system, was harder than I had anticipated. I tried, and failed, to gain paid employment in this interesting, beautiful yet slightly old fashioned country….as an expat with only English as a language, I was at a bit of a loss.

Then a change occurred in my thinking and attitude towards this new situation.

I discovered volunteering!

…something I never would have thought I had time for in the past, and might even have considered uninteresting…and yet as it happens, volunteering changed my entire mindset about work and allowed me to settle temporarily into life in Luxembourg, and find peace and happiness at being a ‘stay at home mum’.

I was incredibly lucky to be recommended to Serve the City who needed someone to manage their marcomms, and over many evenings and weekends I did as much as I could for them. It turns out I enjoyed doing voluntary work so much, I stopped the job hunting and focused instead on the tremendous benefits that volunteering can bring, both to your CV and your social life! It helped me to try and integrate into the country and to feel as though I was contributing to the Luxembourg community and I got to know some fantastic people along the way, volunteers and STC staff.

How did I manage this, along with studying, running a household and caring for my two children full time for the duration of our European adventure? The answer is simple. Volunteering makes you feel good!  It really does give you a warm fuzzy feeling, that the efforts you are going to are making a difference to other people who might not be as fortunate as yourself. This is surely the main driving force behind why every person involved with Serve the City gives up their time.

Serve the City gave me a chance to maintain my professional status. I was able to meet new people and share new experiences, whilst keeping my skills alive and taking my CAM digital marketing qualification. I also got stuck in and volunteered on some of their projects, wherever possible, so that I had first hand experience of the work they do. I helped at activity mornings for underprivileged children, organised information evenings for Luxembourg based charities to promote their work to volunteers, participated in planning and strategy days, developed new charitable partnerships and served drinks at a cancer charity concert!  What an incredible experience I could never have dreamed of having when we initially packed those bags (and endless boxes!) for Luxembourg.

Now back in the UK so that my children can attend English speaking school, I find myself yet again searching for a (paid) job, uncertain as to whether anything will ever quite match the enjoyment I have experienced in volunteering these last 18 months, where my skills have made a difference, in a very unique country, with a simply fabulous bunch of friendly, supportive, like minded people.

One thing is for sure, I have the volunteering bug – so no matter how long it takes to find the next career step, I feel safe in the knowledge there will always be organisations who value you and your skill set and who can lead you in the least expected of directions!

If you haven’t volunteered yet in your professional or personal life – Do it !

Julia Warsap

 

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