Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders from Europe

Volunteer Reports

Bojan Lazarevski

“Be the change you want to see in the world!”

Because volunteering in the community is a core principle of the SUSI program, this year even though the program was virtually held in the summer, the community service remained as one of the key components of the SUSI experience. Since I was studying and doing an internship abroad this spring and part of the summer, I had to find some new organization where I could do my volunteering activity in a city and country where I was living only for a few months, because due to the online program all of the SUSI participants were able to choose where and how they will serve in the community. So I needed some time to do that but in the end, after contacting some organizations, I contacted one another organization where I did my activity.

The name of the organization is Slovo 21 situated in Prague, Czech Republic. It is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 1999 with mainly Czech and Roma members, but also other members from various continents working for the organization. The main aim and goal of the organization is to build a multicultural society and a better coexistence of cultures in Czech Republic but also in Europe as a whole. The work of the organization is divided into two main branches: activities to support the Roma people, and activities that focus on foreigners to support them and help them to integrate in the community.

I visited the organization for two days. The first day I had a chance to discuss with some of the people working there, and to get to know the organization better. The second day I helped them to carry some boxes with computers that had to be delivered from a local post in Prague to the city of Ostrava, to some Roma children who do not have access to internet and online education. After that I did some volunteering work on computer in the organization.

It was a really nice experience, especially because it was abroad. I was happy to find an opportunity to do this in a foreign country, and to help and do some community service in another country. It could have been amazing if this was USA during the program, but I am glad that it was still abroad because it is a really different experience, and I had an opportunity to do this task while being in another country.

young man and a woman sitting at a table, looking at the camera young man and woman sitting at a table and looking at the camera man sitting behind a desk looking at a computer screen man wearing a facemask holding a big bag

Elsa Hoxha

I chose to volunteer at a local farmer in the area where I live. I used to occasionally help them with some friends at planting time or to harvest, but it had been a long time I hadn’t been there so this was a very enjoyable experience.

At this time they had mostly planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, eggplants in greenhouses and in the open fields. They also plant different types of grass such as clover as they have two cows and calves. In their fields they also have many trees, mostly olives and fruit trees such as figs, plums, pears, pomegranates, peaches, kiwi, berries, oranges, lemons and tangerines.There are some photos of me trying to help in different places. The owners of the farm were not enthusiastic about being in photos so I tried to choose some where they are not present to respect their privacy.

As I mentioned there were a lot of olive trees there and they had grains. Now that the temperatures are too high they used to gently work the ground around the tree, without reaching their roots because that would then be a problem, and then water them.

Among many vegetables outside they had planted peppers. They were in direct contact with the sun for most of the day therefore their ground needed to be gently worked and then watered to absorb the water more easily.

During that day I got the chance to also enter the greenhouse saw and watered the vegetables, mainly tomatoes, cucumbers and pepperoni.

During that day I also helped the lady of the house to plant some flowers.  Nothing was wasted there because as you can see I planted a branch of flowers that was cut off.

woman in orange shirt shoveling under tree woman in orange shirt watering a tree woman in orange shirt hoeing a garden row woman in orange shirt patting a plant into a containerwoman in orange shirt watering tall plants woman in orange short hoeing a garden row
woman in orange shirt holding a flowering twig in front of her face, smiling at the camera

Festim Gërguri

slide showing a train track going into the distance

slide Gain by Informing

slide welcome to our HQ, meet the staff

slide with the goal outlined

slide A Model Article

slide man reading newspaper thank you for your attention


Gabriela Leskova

Country: North Macedonia 

The Red Cross is at the front lines in the battle against the pandemic. The situation remains the same these days where the mass vaccination is taking place in North Macedonia. For the volunteering program, I thought the most appropriate thing would be to get in touch with the supervisors of the local Red Cross in Veles. They kindly accepted my invitation and told me to go to the vaccination punts on July 13.  

That day at 8 a.m. I joined the people in the charity action. My work as a volunteer was to help the old, exhausted people or any other person with help in need. I helped people who couldn’t fill the formulary with personal information, to take the vaccine. The crowd was bigger until noon because everyone wanted to finish their job during the colder part of the day. Also, I helped the blind people reach the spot where they have to get the vaccine. We reminded other people to keep social distance, and we were sharing water and masks. 

In the second half of my volunteering, I was transferred to the inside part of the hall where the vaccination took part. Here, the volunteers have to inform the people in which chamber they can get the vaccine, keeping social distance, and avoiding overcrowding.  

I am glad that the process was excellent. It was flowing smoothly and fast, without unwanted reactions. Mother Theresa once said: ‘’There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.’’ 

We cannot invent the cure and save the world from the coronavirus, but we can help a couple of hours as volunteers to people in need. The smiles on the people’s faces that I helped them were my most significant award. Volunteering is a beautiful job. That way, we are making minor but significant changes in society, thus changing the world into a better place.  

people standing outside under a sun umbrella people standing in line outside a building two men in facemasks standing inside a doorway stand here sign on the floor people in a wide hallway people scattered throughout a big room young woman in a facemask wearing a red cross vest

Ilirjana Hoti

Taking care of pre-school children

For my volunteering activity I chose to take care of children at “ARDHMËNIA” pre-school in Prishtina. When I first went there the little ones were a little bit confused on who I was but eventually they grew to like me and they started telling me the activities that they mostly like to do and also they showed me their best friends.

I stayed there for about three hours and I helped the teacher take care of the children and also keep an eye on them. The activities that we did together were singing songs and watering the plants that were on the backyard.

After singing some songs it was time to take a nap, because when I got there it was a bit after noon and the weather was really hot so they got tired. They were sleeping peacefully and after for about two hours the teacher and I slowly woke them up.

When they woke up we made the beds together and folded the blankets that they used to cover their little bodies. Then we offered them some fruits to eat and I got to learn their favorite fruit was peaches.

Before they went outside I helped the kids who were struggling to find the shoes that they wear outside and also to put them on because their tiny hands found it a little bit difficult to tie the shoe laces. It was time for the watering the plants activity so I filled the little watering pots and by order each one of them got to water the plants of their choice.

When we did the watering plants activity, it got a little bit messy because they started to wet each other playfully when they finished watering the plants. Thankfully the parents had given them extra clothes so they changed their wet ones to the dry ones.

Lastly it was time to say goodbye because the parents came to pick up their kids.

brightly colored day care room covered cots in day care room toy plastic sprinkling cans in bowl of water kids outside on a covered patio
young children watering plants

Ionela Cazacu

For my volunteering project, I decided to participate in the making of two radio shows aired by our national radio and television broadcaster, Teleradio Moldova (TRM).

Ora Copiilor and Tineradio are two radio shows designed for children, teenagers and young adults of our country. It is meant to be a source of entertainment and education, especially for those living in the farthest towns and villages of my country. Children and young adults work together voluntarily to produce these two shows, and everyone interested can join. I have been an active member of my team since August 2011.

papers on a desk topAs you can see, the studio does not have the newest equipment. However, our editors and directors are professionals, and we always produce good quality content. The first thing I did when I came to the studio was to print out my script. Here we are taught how to write scripts and record the material properly for it to be used in upcoming shows.

I usually record book reviews and recommendations, and also material about bands and singers, based on the preferences of our listeners. This time, I wrote about Maneskin – the winners of Eurovison Contest 2021and three book reviews: “Kafka on the Shore” and “After Dark” by Haruki Murakami, and “The Professor’s Beloved Equation” by Yoko Ogawa.woman in seated at table in room looking at a computer monitor, microphone nearby

Aside from writing and recording the script, we are also taught and given the chance to edit the audio recordings and clean them of noise and misspoken words.

sound waves on a computer monitorAfter recording and saving the read script, I worked on the audio file and cleaned it. My editor is always re­ checking the produced content, and if there is any error or missing gap, she notifies us, and we try our best to redo the recording. Because I am one of the oldest members, I am also in charge of helping my younger colleagues learn how to edit the audio files and save them. We are not required to finish this task in one sitting. Each of us has a personalised folder where all our WIPs are saved.

I also had the chance to go on a live show together with my teammates. As you can see, there is special equipment out of the streaming booth – that is because the studio still uses a director who is in charge of the music and they control when and for how long we go on-air. This is also because we, the young hosts, are not trained to operate such equipment.

desktop with mikes and monitors two women sitting behind glass wall talking into microphone lit on air sign hanging over a water cooler

This is my friend and colleague, Mihaela. She and I are the among the oldest members of our studio, and often times we are in charge of producing and hosting the most events and shows. She was the host this time, and I joined her as one of the guests.

On this edition, we chatted about different topics, from summer hobbies to school plans and learning opportunities. In my team, everyone knows me as the “girl with the books.” We discussed how important reading is for growing teens, and how the books that we read in our childhood and teenagehood affect the way we perceive the world and think as adults.

Here I took a seine in between music breaks. During the show, I also mentioned that I am participating in a foreign project, SUSI. I shared some details about the program, and I encouraged the listeners to join projects when they have the chance because such opportunities are always fun and useful.

The show was a success, as always. I told my colleagues and editor about the program and my volunteering project, and they were more than happy to help with photos and assistance. At the end of the show, we had a quick feedback meeting, and I was put in charge for the next unplanned live show. I have two weeks to plan discussion topics, and I think I will speak about journalism and use some of the things I learned in the SUSI program about journalism and its ethics to inform my listeners.young woman with red hair wearing earphones flashing the V sign

Iva Gajic

The Kitchen of Solidarity

Every Tuesday and Saturday in the city of Novi Sad volunteers gather and cook food for people in need. A few days ago, I was one of them. I came into the kitchen when everything was ready, and I helped with packing. My job was to bring meals to peoples’ houses – or wherever they live. After we packed everything and put it in the car, we went through the list of addresses. More than 50 meals were ready to be eaten.

First address was a part of the city called Chinatown. Around 10 people live in the ruins of old buildings. When we parked the car, a dog barked – he already knew the sound of an engine that is regularly delivering meals. After that we were going to a few buildings. Those people have the roof over their head, but they are dealing with other types of problems – some of them can’t walk, some have anorexia, etc.

The last address was the hardest. It was the first time for everyone to deliver food there. It’s an old place near the train rails. The houses look like they are melting. It is a neighborhood of Roma people. A lot of kids started to run towards our car – they wanted to see what is happening and who came to visit them. We gave all the meals that we had left, talked with them a little about their situation, and wrote down the number of people who live there – more than 30. The Kitchen of Solidarity and volunteers will provide them food twice a week from now on.

It was a pleasure volunteering, and I will be coming back there whenever I can.

crayon drawing of two vegetables man and woman working at table behind stash of bananas woman working at table with plastic bins of packed lunches plastic bins of food with lettuce and tomato on lids trunk of car holding plastic totes with food woman walking away from camera carrying a bag woman holding a red bin with food outside woman walking toward door, away from camera young woman smiling at camera holding a red bin with a red plaid bag inside

Kiril Stojanov

Volunteer report in the humanitarian organization Caritas

During the period in which I had to volunteer, I chose it to be volunteering in Caritas on 13.07 and 14.07.

Caritas is a world organization that exists in many parts of the world. In Macedonia, Caritas has been operating for 30 years, from 1991 until today 2021.

The activity of Caritas consists of several things; there are several projects that are implemented throughout Macedonia: projects for adults, projects for children, etc. I chose to volunteer in Skopje (wherever I study and work), in a project related to the elderly, sick people, and poor and frail who cannot do alone their basic things: buying food, medicine and other basic things for domestic needs.

My volunteering was to sort and arrange the product and take to the family who need it.

In agreement and communication with responsibility in Caritas, we received a list of products that they bought and received as a donation from social responsibility companies, and together with other volunteers we sorted them and with a transport from the organization Caritas we started to take them to the families that are on the lists.

Products we had for the families were medicines as the most necessary for all the people we visited, because many of the people that Caritas visits because of their way to live have health problems; food and drinks that tests more days. At Caritas people also donate clothes, and because of that our work as a volunteer was to sort the clothes by age and according to the list of the families we were going to.

The purpose of these actions that Caritas organizes is to provide safely at least the latest basic products for a dignified life, and in addition at least 5-10 minutes to talk with those people because they don’t need just things as food or medicine, they also need someone who can hear them when they are telling their problems. Because of that they feel that someone is taking care for them.

I finished volunteering willingly for another time to repeat this.

young man wearing mask offering a plastic bag holding food to a young man young man in mask offering plastic bag with food to a woman on the sidewalk young man squatting, filling boxes two people holding bags walking under leaves, away from camera young man in mask handing plastic bag holding food to older man outside a house two young men working at stacked boxes inside a big roomman and woman wearing facemasks holding bags of food outside door

young man wearing mask handing a bag of food to an older woman at door into her house

Loreta Zharjani

For my volunteer activity, I volunteered at an activity organized by UNICEF and the IPKO Foundation where free medical services were provided. I participated in two hours of pre-volunteer lectures that provided information about the work I had to do. My task was to take care of the organization, to welcome the passers-by and to register them in the medical register. After we shared the tasks we went to the field together with the organizers and other volunteers. The idea of ​​this organization was of some graduates who have recently worked in the PODIUM project, during which teenagers have the opportunity to earn funds for the implementation of their projects that are done for the benefit of the community where we live. There were also doctors and nurses who also volunteered by conducting free medical examinations for bystanders. The services provided during this volunteer work that lasted almost five hours were blood sugar measurement, blood pressure measurement, oxygen measurement, temperature, and general medical examinations. Leaflets with medical content also were distributed.

Also various medical tips.

Despite the hot weather during this activity, which was a challenge for the participants, about 50 citizens had the opportunity to be checked and receive free medical advice. The citizens were very pleased with the opportunity offered to them and many of them expressed the desire for such an organization to be done again in the future.

During this organization I had the opportunity to see closely the work of doctors, I was also able to better communicate with them and help them. I am grateful I was able to participate in this activity, I enjoyed every second of it and I look forward to more activities like this where helping people is involved, it made me feel very fulfilled.

young woman standing outside at banner, sun tent behind shielding people standing on plaza

young woman bending over table checking in another person people sitting and standing under a sun canopy hands holding a pulse ox device young woman standing up a sign holder hands holding a blood pressure cuss


Maragonë Arifi

Hi I am Marigonë Arifi and this is my report for the volunteering project.

I decided to volunteer in the resources center for teaching and advising “Nëna Terezë” in Mitrovicë. I already finished an internship there so it wasn’t hard for me to figure out where to volunteer and I was welcomed there.

It was a pleasure and great joy to see the kids again and they were happy as well. Since that is a school for kids with special needs and school is already over, they try to do activities one or two times a month for the kids during the summer as well. They work together with the Football Federation of Kosovo to make the students feel involved in sports and be active. The kids love it every time when the activity happens.

The federation provides special instructors and other trainers who help the students with their games and planned activities; they also provide different equipment like balls, hula hoops, nets, cones (different colors), goal and so on.

Usually, they plan different games with the kids but the older kids want mostly to play football or like getting in a circle and passing the ball around. With the younger kids we like to play with hula hoops and putting the circles in the ground and making them jump with one leg from one circle to another.

We also played the game with the colorful cones and the kids divide the cones based on their colors. In the beginning of the day, we sent them to wash their hands and go to eat breakfast. We always try to make them eat by themselves but for those who need help we cut the food into small bites so they only have to grab and eat it.

The teachers and the trainers are so nice and the kids love them so they always enjoy spending time with them. The activity lasts only three hours so the kids are always sad when it is over. I also helped the kids  get ready and send them to the bus in the school yard.

It was a pleasure for me also to get the chance to see the kids as well.

Nevena Ivanovic

Volunteering in the Serbian Red Cross

The humanitarian organization Red Cross of Serbia organizes numerous actions. One of them is a voluntary blood donation. Young people, Red Cross volunteers, attend and with their efforts help and guide those people who participate in the activity. The goal of the young people is to inform the citizens in a nice and polite way what are their obligations, talk to them and be there for them at all times. By donating blood, many people save other people’s lives and that is a great act. This event was organized in a local facility, where a large number of citizens attended and responded to the action.

woman reporter holding small microphone interviewing a young woman wearing a face mask and a red cross vest


Woman checking name tags People standing in line in a hallway woman volunteer in red vest checking in a client volunteers standing at front door woman in a red vest talking to a younr man man in face mask about to have his blood pressure taken

Réka Heszterényi

woman stirring batter behind a table. a cake is on the table.I decided to complete my volunteer activity at “Heti Betevő” which is an organisation that cooks food for homeless people and families in need. Additionally, they also organise events and auctions and use the money donated to provide food for more people. They have been around for 8 years, operate at 5 locations, with about 350 volunteers, giving away 3,800 lunches monthly. I heard about this organisation through a friend and decided to help them out by baking.

As I am not fully vaccinated yet I wasn’t comfortable with being around many people, so I did not volunteer to cook food. However, they were happy to accept baked goods, so I spent the morning cooking banana bread then I delivered it to them. When I arrived, I was greeted by a group of elderly ladies who were just finishing up cooking. There were also many young people of my age giving a helping hand.

The place where Heti Betevő operates is called “Gólya,” which functions as a community centre. All kinds of events take place here from workshops, movie nights, to gathering of CSOs. It is found in the 8th district, which is one of the poorest districts in Budapest, with a high concentration of Roma population. Here, on every Saturday Heti Betevő cooks for about 120-130 people in need, including single parents and parents with many children. As contrary to places where they distribute food, this is not “open”; working closely together with municipal Social Services, families are selected to receive food packages.

I was happy to contribute with three plates of banana bread and it was heart-warming to see so many people working on providing food to families in need. At the same time I felt that I wanted to do more, therefore I invited my friends to organise a baking day together so we could make even more cookies. I have also decided to volunteer on a Saturday once I have full immunity. I am grateful to have undertaken this volunteering activity as it made me realise how lucky I am to have food on my table every day and also that even with small gestures I could help people. I will definitely keep my eye open to find more opportunities to contribute to the community.