7 months at IPC as ESC volunteers

We are Artūrs and Clo, from Latvia and Italy. We were the ESC volunteers from the Spring Term 2022 to the Summer Courses. It is hard to describe and summarize the past 7 months of our lives, but we think that the best way to do that is making a list of the most successful activities that we had in the term, also to inspire the next volunteers. For us it was pointless to make two different recaps, cause we worked together the whole time and this was definitely the best part of our project (also with the help of our amazing Student Teachers Yeyin, Sunao and Jacob… High Five for the Studenteers). We really hope that the next Studenteers will have the same close friendship we had, cause everything is more fun if you do it with friends. So here we are, trying to explain in words our 7 months in IPC.

The Opening Party

Due to spread of Covid in IPC we were able to open the Human Rights Cafè only in February, we were very excited to finally open the space to students and to try baking for the first time in IPC. For the Grand Opening Clo baked some vegan brownies and Arturs baked some oat cookies (for the recors they were too dry)

The room was fully booked (we don’t know if it was for us or for the smell of fresh browies, but we like to think that it was us). The students loved the Human Rights Cafè from the beginning, the atmosphere was cozy and full of good vibes. Students started to get to know each other better, playing board games like werewolf (that become a very popular game in IPC, students also created a live version of it), Janga and Mikado.

We also left some paper and pens, asking students to write their first impression about the Human Rights Café. They could write it in English or in their native language. It was so nice to read all these amazing messages before closing the Café.

Our first party in the Big Hall

After the wave of COVID-19 was overcome, we organized the “Spring Term 2022” opening party, which was a particularly nice event, because the students could finally spend time together and dance until the morning.

Secret Valentines

The Secret Valentines was one of the most successful activities. More than 50 students joined and during Valentine’s day the school was full of love and smiles. The main purpose of this activity was to prove that love is not only about romantic relationships, but it is a way of showing caring and kindness to the people who surround us.

How it worked: One week before Valentine’s day students sent a private message to Clo who made a draw with the names and sent back a text with the name of their Secret Valentine’s, so on Valentine’s day they were supposed to do something nice for this person.

The school was filled by hearts, homemade cookies (heart shaped), Teddy bears and nice cards. Of course Clo couldn’t take part to the game cause she was the one doing the draw, but a group of students decided to make her a surprise and to leave it in front of her room (she was almost crying ahahah).

Hide and Seek nights

For students to get to know the school premises better and have fun on Monday evening, we organize hide and seek throughout the school. The game turned into a two-hour activity because some students had found very good hiding places.
The students liked this activity and there was a great response from them, so we organized this activity also on the following Monday evening.

Our little Poetry Club

The Poetry Club was one of the most intimate activities we had in the past 7 months, not many people showed up but it wasn’t a bad thing. We shared our favorite poems both in English and in our native languages. It was amazing listening to so many different accents and languages, and then we explained the meaning of the poem to the othes, sharing our feeling about it and the story behind it.

It was like traveling through the world with words, and it is also the main point of being in IPC, a small bubble in Denmark were you can meet the world. At this point I (Clo) understood how incredible was to be here, and how lucky I was, cause I came here alone and I am leaving with friends spread all around the planet.

Pajama Party

At this point of the semester all the students understood how cozy and welcoming the Human Rights Café was, so what’s better than a sleepover with a nice movie, hot chocolate and pop corn?! We brought a lot of mattresses and blankets and, as always, we had the most amazing chats with students who liked the Human Rights Café as a place were they could have been just themselfs, and take a break from the parties (even tho we organized so many amazing parties during the term).

Music Quiz

As a team building activity, we organized a music quiz with songs from famous movies. The Human Rights Cafe was packed with people, and the event turned into a fierce and energetic battle between all the teams, and we decided the winner by only a couple of points.

To make the event more interesting and pleasant for its visitors, we prepared several sweets. Students asked us for more music quizzes and we had the last one in the common room as our last activity.

Secret Easter Bunny

The Secret Easter Bunny was basically the same concept of the Secret Valentines, but in this case a cute bunny was involved. The activity was again a success and students are still chasing Clo to know who their Secret Bunny was (but your secrets are safe with her).

Here are some pictures sent by students for our Instagram page (that you should definitely check).

Eurovision Nights

Everyone has their guilty pleasures, Clo has an obsession for the Eurovision Song Contest, and considering that this year the hosting country was Italy it was mandatory to organize something in the Human Rights Cafè. As usual the first day we were complaining about every song, and the last day we were all singing and dancing.

P.S. Latvia and their Salad deserved the final.

Cultural Evening

Ok, there is a lot to say about the European Cultural Evening, Artūs was not there for the Performance night, but Clo danced the Pizzica (typical dance from Southern Italy) with the other Italians (huge Tak to Serena, Marta and Leila) and Clo is not a good dancer at all… but this is another story.

Anyway, we decided to make a Movie festival in the Human Rights Cafè. We presented 3 movies: Blizzard of Souls is a very interesting movie from Latvia and was presented by Artūrs.
The Mafia Kills Only in Summer is a movie from Italy was presented by Clo with the help of Serena, Marta and Leila (who made an amazing vegan Salame al Cioccolato for us).
The last movie was Good Bye Lenin! Presented by our Student Teacher Jacob and Tanja, they also made Zimtsterne and Vanillekipferl (I hope I spelled it right).

Time Machine and Funny Pictures Challenge

I am putting this in only one post cause it was very similar. We had the idea of the Time Machine Challenge thanks to the student teacher Jacob, we were just talking about our childhood pictures and he said “oh, it will be fun seeing the students baby pictures and guessing who the student is”. And that’s what we did, the students had a couple of days to send me their pictures and we showed them in the Human Rights Café that was full of students ready to make their guess.

Same thing happened with the Funny Pictures, but in this case there was no guessing, just a lot of laughs.

Monday means Floorball

Together with the teacher Rod, every Monday we organized floorball training for the students with the aim of providing them with sports activities and their ability to work in a team.
In cooperation with local residents, we once organized a joint training with the local floorball team, which turned out to be a nice opportunity for students to get to know Danish culture and local residents.
As with the students, we went to watch the home games of the local floorball team and support them.


Life After IPC

Our final days at IPC were a whilwind of letter writing, cleaning, organising, and trying to spend as much time with the people we’ve grown to love as possible before it was time to leave. I also created an interactive summary of the project which you can see on this link. You can glimpse inside the HRC and see photos and videos of some of the activities we did this term.

This week, I started my new job in London, the experience is very different from IPC. It’s a two hour journey by train to get to my office, it makes me laugh to think how people used to complain how far away the HRC was – that two minute walk was too much!! 😂

My volunteering at the HRC has made me feel more prepared for my new job, as in my new work I am also taking ownership of a project with a similar goal of making people’s lives better and preparing them for the future, albeit in a very different way – my new project is on improving community resiliency to disasters. Volunteering at the HRC gave me so many skills which I am now using on a daily basis – for example, project management, communication, initiative-taking and time management.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the young people at IPC, to take part in the awesome adventures of the last five months, and to be able to go through this intense but amazing period of self-development. Your time at IPC is really what you make of it, and it will be unique to you, so to whoever comes in the future, forge your own path, share your past with others, enjoy the present and get excited for the future!!!😄

Much love, Nazarena

First 3 months as a volunteer at IPC… What’s it all about?

Fair warning, this post is kinda long, but how can you summarise 3 intense months into a single post? Well, I tried 😅

In this article, I will cover: my journey to IPC, the first weeks, the activities at the Human Rights Café, my personal project, what a normal day looks like, how I keep a work-life balance, and the recent on-arrival training. Enjoy and I hope this post is useful to you to learn about the work and my experiences at IPC!

Arriving at IPC

I came here to Denmark from France three months ago to start my European Solidarity Corps volunteering. The trip by train was long… 26 hours, in fact. I left my comfortable French apartment as the sun rose and I boarded the train to Brussels. In Brussels, I met up with a friend for a relaxed lunch on the terrace of a traditional restaurant before continuing on by train through Germany. Passing through Germany, I felt lost. The announcements on the tannoy were suddenly again unfamiliar, reminding me of my first days in France. The train chugged slowly, not daring to go faster for the storm that battered the windows and the floodwaters causing damage nearby. It was my first time sleeping on a night train, and really not too bad given I only had a seat and not a bed. Eventually, I arrived, exhausted, in Helsingor, took that long walk up the hill, and was greeted by my boss Bogna, her husband Angelo, their kids and a delicious breakfast outside.

First weeks

The first few weeks were time to become adjusted to life at International People’s College. IPC is an international folk highschool, meaning a school for those 17 and above who want to have an international experience, learn about the world, its problems and solutions, be creative, discover themselves and their passions, in a learning environment without the pressure of exams. My domain of work is within the Human Rights Café, a space for students to come, relax, eat cake and take part in alternative learning and bonding activities. For the first few weeks, cleaning and redecorating was in order, as due to covid there had not been volunteers the previous term, so the room was very neglected. Along with the other volunteer, Thélia, who came from Paris, we chose new furniture and planned out our first activities. Now, the HRC is a cosy place of sofas, rugs, pillows, blankets, string lights and art in the colours of pink, beige and brown. 

Our activities

The activities we have been running in the Human Rights Café include a language café, poetry club, relaxation/meditation sessions, fun bonding activities such as murder mystery, speed dating and games nights, movie and discussion nights, and conversations around important topics such as peace and internationalism – all featuring a lot of cake 🙂 the purposes of our activities are to enable students to connect to each other in a different context than their classes, to express themselves in new ways and to learn and think deeply about the pressing issues facing our global society.

My personal project

On that topic, I have also been working on a personal project, which is a board game about climate justice. It is a game where the players must work together to discover and implement solutions to avert a climate catastrophe. It brings up questions of how different solutions impact people differently, their different needs, and enables conversations to be had about the solutions to the climate crisis around the world. Many students have been helping me play-test this game, and soon it is going to be printed professionally. The school will keep a copy so that future generations of students can benefit from the opportunity to share a fun moment together while thinking and learning about climate justice.

A normal day

My days at IPC begin with breakfast and Morning Fellowship, a moment of assembly for the students and staff, to sing and share announcements. Then I have my daily French lesson – I am continuing to study French every day and have improved significantly since I left France. The mornings are also time for planning activities and administrative tasks. Sometimes we have activities in the afternoons, if not they are normally spent baking, cleaning the HRC etc. Then finally, we normally do activities in the evenings such as those mentioned above. 

Work-life balance?

At first, it was hard to find a work-life balance. Eating all meals together means it’s hard to leave the school as we have to be back every few hours for a meal. Finishing our activities frequently at 9:30pm or 10:30pm means going to bed immediately, not having any time to relax or work towards our personal goals. But I learned to take the first few hours of the morning to relax, sleep sometimes (hehe) and work on my French.

I try to also keep my life balanced through volunteering in the wider community outside of IPC. I volunteered at some events for a jazz festival in Helsingor and also did some administrative tasks for a humanitarian NGO in Copenhagen. I often think that IPC doesn’t feel like Denmark, as it is such an international place, so those moments engaging with the wider community were really valuable for me to see Denmark from another perspective.

On-arrival Training

Another important moment in my time here at IPC was the on-arrival training (named as such despite taking place half way through my project). Saying that, it was well timed, as it came in a moment where both us volunteers were feeling pretty low, as happens. We travelled to Odense and met with several other volunteers who, like us, came from around Europe to volunteer in Denmark. It was great to connect with other people going through similar experiences to us, and be inspired by them. We ate a lot, shared a lot, and quickly became friends – I then spent the weekend in Aarhus with two of the volunteers I met on that training. 

New friends from the on-arrival training

And now?

Since the on-arrival training several weeks ago, with a new burst of motivation from Thélia and I, we have been creating some amazing and meaningful events, such as Thélia created a beautiful video presentation of the first half of the term. We showed it to the students in the Big Hall with mattresses, string lights, free cookies and a moment to reflect, using some question prompts, on all that’s happened in the first half of the term. We have a lot of energy going forward, and despite not having too much time left, I think I speak for both Thélia and I when I say we are planning to make the most of it.