Article European Voluntary Service at the ICNM in Salzburg, Austria
Shi(f)t happens, and it happens online!
Servus all of you! My name is Gerwin and I recently finished my European Voluntary Service (EVS) in Salzburg at the International Center for New Media (ICNM). The lovely city of Mozart hosted this greenhorn Belgian for eight months, a stay (and a journey!) of a lifetime. Let me take you on a ride through Salzburg, Austria, Montréal and beyond!
Salzburg: die Bühne der Welt
Although it is one of the smaller cities in Austria, Salzburg has a cultural tradition which is predominantly defined by one of its most famous citizens: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The composer’s birthplace and hometown is literally riddled with his heritage, going from Mozartkügeln (nice little chocolate balls with tasty Marzipan on the inside) to classical concerts being played throughout the year. No wonder they call it ‘Mozart City’, a place where lovers of classical music and opera are treated each summer with the Festspiele, the world-renowned opera festival at the Festspielhaus.
Another world famous testimony to the musical tradition of Salzburg is ‘The Sound of Music’, a movie (based on true events) about the von Trapp family and their singing nanny. Tourists from all over the world are still hopping-on/hopping-off the different bus tours to visit the filming locations and their real counterpart. The distinctive yellow bus will become a familiar sight after an extended stay between the musical hills!
But there is more: Salzburg used to be the resident city of catholic bishops who were benefiting from the salt mines in the south. The wealth and importance of the salt trade is well displayed in the city’s architecture, where the plethora of churches and the mighty Dom are beautifully decorated, all residing under the watchful towers of the Festung (fortress) on the top of the Monchsberg.
In short, Salzburg is all about Mozart, chocolate, classical music, opera, Sound of Music and last but not least...wonderful and warm people!
The ICNM: NGO at the digital frontier
Given its name, the ICNM is all about digital media and has its roots in one of the first digital awards in Europe, called Europrix. Nowadays the team at the ICNM is working night and day making four international awards and its related competitions happen every single year. But that’s not even the best part: the awards celebrate people who are using the Internet and mobile applications for social good, empowerment, a brighter future, and a better world for all of us. Remember those UN Millennium Development Goals which are set for 2015? The ICNM awards the best websites and applications who help in achieving them.
As an EVS-volunteer I was part of an international team and was the main support of the Project Manager for one of the awards. There I witnessed firsthand that shifthappens, and it happens online. Don’t assume it was a boring office job, on the contrary: it was an awesome experience where I worked with a lot of different people, learned a whole bunch about the power of a simple internet connection, gained professional experience in coordinating events and managing them and got to fly all the way to Montréal in Canada for the Winners’ Event!
European Voluntary Service in Salzburg
Having just finished my EVS in Salzburg, I can only give you three pieces of advice: do it, do it and just DO IT! It is a blast to meet other people from different European countries and to live in this beautiful city (and country!), even if it is for only a ‘brief’ period of time. Akzente Salzburg, the coordinating organization for EVS, does an excellent job of guiding you through your project and stay. You don’t need to worry about a thing! They provide a monthly get-together with all the other volunteers based in Salzburg as well as free-time activities. Naturally, you can choose to do what you want during the weekends: go explore the rich landscapes of Austria or even travel beyond the borders to Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland,... possibilities are endless!
EVS: Expand your personal borders and awareness, Venture into a foreign country and culture, and St(r)ay off the beaten path!
Gerwin De Roy 03/02/2013