Post | May 2022 | News | 5 min read

Event Recap: VTH Mix & Match Volunteer Job Fair - May 2022 Edition

Written by Gabriel Rodriguez

Thursday, 19 May was a very special day for us at Volunteer The Hague: After two long years of pandemic restrictions, a sense of normalcy has finally returned to our lives, and in part to celebrate this, we were thrilled to finally be able to hold an in-person event again as part of our continued mission to serve our local expat and international community! The event was held at The Hague Humanity Hub's fantastic events space, which was a perfect venue for our attendees to mix and mingle with other local internationals, as well as with representatives from nearly 30 local NGOs and service organizations in attendance! These organizations serve a wide range of interests, including organizations devoted to the enforcement of human rights, refugee and migrant support, arts and culture promotion, animal care, multiculturalism, and elderly and child care. (A full list of the organizations in attendance may be found at the end of this article.) And with over 100 attendees joining us, the event was a huge success!

Our attendees spent their time during the three-hour event checking out the various tables set up by the representatives of the organizations in attendance. The reps spoke about their organizations' missions, current activities, and the benefits they offer their volunteers, and our attendees were able to ask questions and exchange contact information. It was a thrill to see everyone's enthusiasm for getting involved and bettering the local community. It was also great to see so many fantastic connections being made between attendees as well, and we hope this was the beginning of new friendships and support systems for each other!

We also had several speakers as part of our program. Gerko Viseé from The Hague International Centre gave an insightful and informative talk about the current state of the local job market, while VTH's very own project manager, Tetyana Benzoural, spoke about the benefits that volunteering can offer in terms of career goals and personal fulfillment. And to start off the event, we had PEP Director Fenna Noordermeer on hand to speak about PEP, VTH's mission within PEP, and how everyone has a valuable and unique role to play in volunteering activities in The Hague.

Finally, VTH volunteers Gabriel and Reem were on hand to have a short conversation with Tetyana about their experience volunteering at various organizations in The Hague. The key takeaways from this: Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends and professional connections, beef up your current job skills, and gain brand new job skills for those looking to change careers. And according to them, volunteering has also been a great way for them to get to know The Hague itself - the types of organizations that operate in the city, community goals, and even local culture and language!

We want to send our heartfelt thanks to Gerko for offering his insight and advice to support our community; to volunteers Gabriel and Reem for answering questions on stage; and to all of the attendees and organizations in attendance for making this a fun event where new friends and connections could be made. And a special thank you goes to the fantastic event volunteers who stepped up to help make this event a success! We very much look forward to offering more in-person events in the future!

Organizations in Attendance:

ACCESS - A foundation that relies on its English-speaking international and Dutch volunteers who enjoy helping others adjust to life in the Netherlands.

AFS Nederland - an international, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides cross-cultural learning opportunities to impart knowledge, skills and understanding for a better and more peaceful world.

Arm Of Love International - A non-profit dedicated to Making Change Possible and Sustainable for all by educating, protecting, and supporting children and other disadvantaged groups in developing countries.

Centre for African Justice, Peace and Human Rights - a foundation devoted to promoting justice, peace and human rights through education, awareness, campaign, training, outreach (Legal / Medical) and capacity building in Africa.

CoderDojo Den Haag - a free, open and local programming club for young people.

Het Koorenhuis - a creative and cultural hotspot located in the center of The Hague in a monumental building with a rich history dating back to the 17th century. 

Mammarosa The Hague - a non-profit that supports women who are being treated for breast cancer and gives information about early detection in the Netherlands.

Middin - a foundation dedicated to helping people with brain damage while helping them with their daily needs.

NL Cares - a volunteer pooling organization focussing on flexible volunteer work through social events, online volunteer agenda en corporate impact programs.

Ocan - a 36 years old foundation committed to improving the position and advocacy of the Caribbean Dutch and related groups.

Popradar Den Haag - the former Haags Pop Centrum, is an organization that provides a lively and diverse pop scene in The Hague.

Positive News Foundation - a young foundation that connects uplifting news articles with people looking for positive news.

Present Den Haag - a non-profit specialized in collaboration with all the professional welfare and mental healthcare organizations of The Hague and surroundings.

Reach & Teach - a foundation that aims to assist the integration of newcomers (status holders, asylum seekers, and migrants) in The Hague region by offering Dutch and English classes, buddy systems, and social events.

Saúde da Floresta - a foundation dedicated to helping the indigenous Amazone people of Brasil.

The Hague International Centre a point of contact for international staff of organizations and companies in The Hague region.

The Hungry Mind - a volunteer-run community centre for internationally-minded people.

Together International - a foundation with the mission to design and implement solidarity projects addressing the socio-economic situation that emerged from the Covid-19 international humanitarian crisis.

Vereniging Humanitas Home-Start - a project that offers support, practical help and friendship to parents by trained volunteers with parenting experience.

Vier het Leven - a foundation that helps to realize life-changing events for the elderly.

Vitalis - a foundation that matches a young person in need to an adult volunteer, to form a caring interaction that will promote the positive development of the young person.

VTV Thuismaatjes - an organization that supports people with disabilities to participate in daily life activities, such as walks, sports, going to the movies and having positive social contact with others.

Wijkz - a welfare organization for the residents of the Hague, to inform them about activities, voluntary jobs, support in the neighborhood and give practical help where needed.

Wool for Warmth - a non-profit dedicated to collecting wool and organizing knitting groups that knit for the homeless.

WWF - active in more than 100 countries and on 6 continents, this foundation does everything it can to protect and restore nature.

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Our project manager, Tetyana Benzeroual, was invited for an interview at the local radio program Dutchbuzz , an English radio program of news, views and interviews that tells you what's happening in this buzzing city of ours. We are so excited to share with you the recording of her interview talking about volunteering and the upcoming Mix & Match Volunteer Job Fair. Registration for the volunteer fair is now open and you can register by following the link below. Hope to see you all there!

Interview with Tetyana Benzeroual on Dutchbuzz, Den Haag FM 92.0

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On 5 June 2023, Volunteer The Hague Project Manager Tetyana Benzeroual sat down with Professor Lucas Meijs for a wide-ranging interview on volunteer culture in the Netherlands, how internationals living here can make the most of their time volunteering, and the interesting concept of "hyphen volunteering." The transcript of that conversation can be found below.    Lucas Meijs is a professor of “Strategic Philanthropy” at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University. His current research focuses on issues related to strategic philanthropy, volunteer/non-profit management, corporate community involvement, voluntary energy as a natural resource, and involved learning (life-long development by volunteering). Professor Meijs has been an appointed member of the Raad voor Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling, the official policy advisory body for the Dutch government and parliament. He regularly publishes on management issues in the philanthropic sector, as well as on volunteer work. He served two terms as the first non-American co-editor in chief of Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Quarterly, the academic journal of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).    Tetyana Benzeroual: What are the benefits of volunteering for internationals in The Netherlands?    Lucas Meijs: Volunteering is a very easy way to get connected with new people. We usually think about volunteering as a long term commitment - that you go every week to the same place. But there are many more short term options too! Especially these are very nice if you want to connect to your neighborhood. For example, you could participate in a monthly volunteering activity for a few hours and discover new and interesting places in The Netherlands while meeting new people. I like to tell my students that volunteering brings you places where you usually would not end up going. It might be a place you never thought of going to, like a food bank, but it's good to experience it occasionally and reflect on it. Next time, you could participate in organizing a big barbecue for kids in the neighborhood, which can be a fun and rewarding experience. So it's important to think about creating a "hyphen volunteering," where you gain something from the experience.    It's not transactional but rather finding a win-win situation. It could be as simple as enjoying good weather or exploring a new part of the city. It's about looking for ways to make volunteering align with your interests and comfort zone. Sometimes you might push the boundaries a bit, but if you're doing it with friends or even a group of strangers, it becomes more fun.    T.B.: Could you please tell us more about what you mean by the term “hyphen volunteering”?    L.M.: When it comes to hyphen volunteering, what I mean is that volunteering connects to something in your agenda; in other words, it builds on to the activities and commitments you already have. In the U.S., for example, there are organizations like "Single Volunteers of DC," where people combine dating with volunteering. So, if dating is already part of your regular activities, you can make it an icebreaker by volunteering together. Family volunteering is another option, where you involve your friends or family in the volunteering experience. Think about connecting volunteering to existing plans or interests.    [So] instead of seeing volunteering as something added to my already busy agenda, you can ask yourself, "What am I already busy with and how can I connect volunteering to it?" For example, there's a concept called "plogging," where you combine jogging or running with cleaning up your neighborhood. It's about finding ways to integrate volunteering into your already busy agenda.    T.B.: We've observed that our audience of international volunteers can be divided into two categories: Those who are already employed and those who are searching for work. How can volunteering benefit these two groups?    L.M.: For those who are already employed, volunteering offers an easy way to get out of their working bubble, to step outside of their work environment. It allows them to break free from their routine and engage with a wider community. We have a notable example of a Japanese organization in Rotterdam that was thrilled to support very local philanthropic causes because it gave their employees a chance to connect with people outside their business level. So let's use volunteering to make this a real multilevel international experience.    If the working individuals only confine themselves to their own bubble, their international experience becomes superficial in place of a more authentic and meaningful international journey. For those who are unemployed, the role of volunteering differs slightly. Here, volunteering can serve three purposes. Firstly, it offers an opportunity to meet new people who can help with job searching. Try meeting new people, as many as possible. We call this the network function. Engaging in volunteer work that allows you to interact with a diverse network can lead to potential job connections.    Secondly, volunteering helps individuals explore various sectors and gain insights into the job market in the Netherlands. By volunteering in different areas such as sports, healthcare, or working with children, they can assess which field aligns best with their interests and skills. We call it the experimental function.    The third benefit is skills development. We call it "functional volunteering." Unemployed individuals can use volunteering to sharpen their abilities in a specific area. For instance, if someone has expertise in sports or a related degree, they can search for a weekly volunteering position in a community sports center to demonstrate their capabilities to potential Dutch employers. Combined volunteering offers a "signal function," which shows employers that the prospective employee, engaged with a relevant volunteer role, possesses the necessary skills and commitment.    So, the whole combination into the signal function can greatly benefit those seeking employment. Experimenting with different opportunities, understanding what suits them, showcasing their skills through volunteering, and making connections can help them secure suitable employment. It's important to remember that even if a volunteering experience reveals a strong personal dislike for a certain activity, it's still a successful outcome. Being able to determine what doesn't work for you is just as valuable as finding something that does. Ultimately, it's about gaining self-awareness and making progress in your life journey.    T.B.: How is volunteering in The Netherlands different from other countries?    L.M.: Hmm, I think what is important here is that internationals do not compare volunteering as they know it from their own countries to The Netherlands and instead think of an activity they enjoy greatly. Once they know what makes them happy, then they can try to find this activity in the volunteer environment. There are volunteers driving at primary schools and sports associations, volunteers cleaning up all kinds of places, painting houses, collecting for the food bank, and cooking for vulnerable individuals. Whatever you think is a paid job, you most likely can find someone doing it unpaid as a volunteer in The Netherlands. Of course, correct training is expected as, for example, one cannot drive a car as a volunteer without a driver's license. Neither can this person drive a car for a paid position without proper licensing.      In former communist counties, for example, volunteering is perceived by the older generation as forced, whereas the new generation sees it in a similar way as Western people do. If you come from The Netherlands, Belgium, or the Northern states, you see volunteering as active belonging to a community rather than just unpaid labor. They see volunteering as a team effort and an opportunity to build connections within a group. It's not just about doing work; it's about being part of a community. Americans see volunteering more as unpaid work and a slot filling in an assembly line where volunteers are replaced by other volunteers in line. In The Netherlands, we see volunteering much more as a team that builds together a car. But getting into the (Dutch) team is a bit of a struggle. To use an understatement.    T.B.: This probably explains why internationals need to interview for volunteer positions, which comes as a surprise to many of them.    L.M.: In the States, volunteers will be interviewed to assess if they can do the tasks. The difference with The Netherlands is that the main purpose of the interview is to assess if volunteers fit within the team. In fact, volunteers in The Netherlands are not expected to perform the same task over and over again. They become valuable members of the team who can take up their own projects and steer the course of their volunteer organization. This can make it challenging for internationals to integrate into volunteering activities, as they need to fit into the existing team dynamics. However, once they become part of the team, volunteering in The Netherlands offers flexibility and variety in terms of tasks and activities.    T.B.: Any last words of wisdom for our international volunteers?    L.M.: For international volunteers seeking positions, it's important to consider that they have the opportunity to become integral members of the organization and something bigger. This aligns well with the desire for learning and belonging that many internationals seek. Volunteering can help them find that sense of belonging within a specific group or organization.    It doesn't necessarily require a weekly commitment, as once you become part of the team, there is flexibility in how often you contribute. It can be on a monthly or intermittent basis, depending on the volunteer's availability and preferences. Ultimately, volunteering offers the chance to find your sense of belonging and connect with a community that resonates with your interests and values. It's a valuable opportunity to be part of something meaningful and contribute to a greater collective.    T.B.: Thank you for sharing your insights and expertise on volunteering in the Netherlands!

Exclusive Interview with Professor Lucas Meijs on Volunteering for Internationals & More

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On 5 June 2023, Volunteer The Hague Project Manager Tetyana Benzeroual sat down with Professor Lucas Meijs for ...
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Every year, on June 20th, the global community honours the resilience and bravery of individuals who have been forced to leave their homelands due to war or fear of persecution. The designated theme for World Refugee Day in 2023 is "hope away from home," emphasising the influential force of inclusion and the pursuit of viable solutions for refugees. By embracing an inclusive approach, we aspire to create a world where refugees are always welcomed and integrated.    By incorporating refugees into the communities that have provided them safety following their escape from armed conflict and persecution, we facilitate their successful reestablishment and empower them to make valuable contributions to their host nations. This approach proves to be the most effective way to assist refugees in rebuilding their lives and allowing them to actively participate in their new societies.    The challenges faced by Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands are an example of the real-life implications of World Refugee Day's theme of inclusion. Among Ukrainian refugees, there are many highly skilled individuals who are eager to actively integrate into Dutch society. However, due to their status under the EU Temporary Protection Directive, they are currently unable to access integration courses, hindering their ability to systematically learn the Dutch language and culture, unlike legally recognised refugees. This limitation not only poses difficulties for their integration but also creates obstacles in finding employment or volunteer opportunities.    As non-profit organisations in The Hague, you have a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact by actively engaging Ukrainian refugees as volunteers. By providing them with meaningful volunteer opportunities, you not only enable them to utilise their skills and expertise but also offer them a platform to connect with the local community, build relationships, and improve their language proficiency.    Hiring Ukrainian refugees gets you proactive, dedicated, and enthusiastic members on board. They are highly skilled and have lots of experience, and can offer fresh perspectives, which can only enrich your organisation.      “We have experience, time, and passion to be useful to Dutch society, and we would like to be more integrated into the community. If you have interesting tasks for us, we are here to help” Alena, Kyiv    Furthermore, by incorporating Ukrainian refugees as volunteers, you provide them with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience and references within the Dutch context. This experience can greatly enhance their future employment prospects, as it demonstrates their ability to adapt, collaborate, and contribute effectively within the local community.     By actively embracing and involving Ukrainian refugees as volunteers, your non-profit organisation can make a significant difference in their lives, while simultaneously enriching your own work. Together, we can foster a stronger and more inclusive community in The Hague, where the talents and aspirations of Ukrainian refugees are recognised, valued, and utilised to their fullest potential.    “Refugees want opportunities, not handouts. They wish to be self-reliant, and are eager to use their talents and passions to contribute to the communities hosting them” UNHCR

A Call Out to the Dutch Non-Profits: Ukrainian Refugees Looking for Volunteer Opportunities

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Every year, on June 20th, the global community honours the resilience and bravery of individuals who have been ...
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