The Atlantic Bridge centre is located in the province of Zeeland, a coastal region in the South western part of the Netherlands made up of peninsulas that extend towards the North Sea. Dikes, flat farm land and waterways are a common sight in the region. It is helpful if a volunteer appreciates the countryside!
Though the secularisation has taken root, the province of Zeeland is still considered a religious area with a strong Calvinist community. However, there are considerable walls between churches and in that sense our mission to build bridges is also a good fit. Volunteers need to be aware that they will be in contact with youth from different churches and we prefer each volunteer to be linked to one particular church and youth group in the area.
The project runs for 3 or 11 months, starting at any time.
For the year 2020-2021 Atlantic Bridge is hosting six ESC (European Solidarity Corps – a program of the Erasmus+) volunteers to stay at the Atlantic Bridge centre in the town of Kruiningen, where volunteers live, cook, wash up, clean, study, receive training and work on their individual and team projects. The time together allows them to discuss issues they encounter, build a team under the supervision and guidance of the Atlantic Bridge staff. Volunteers also have the chance to stay in guest homes for certain periods – a few days each month – to enable them to experience Dutch culture first-hand and develop relationships with the families and local youth.
A vital part of the mission of building bridges and breaking down walls is for volunteers to learn to work as a cross-cultural team, complementing and supporting each other. At the same time they help execute strategies to motivate, inspire and involve local/regional youth in ongoing cross-cultural mission projects, not only in the region, but also on a European/International level
The project is called BRIDGEBUILDERS COMMUNITY (BBCOM). It is an activity-and-information platform through which youth from different cultures, ethnic groups, and churches have a chance to meet and become friends, BECOME part of a local as well as global community as they participate in a variety of ‘bridgebuilding’ activities. With the help of a local support team, usually young people their age, they initiate and help coordinate cross-cultural activities and inspire youth involvement, promoting respect and understanding between young people, furthering personal development, while at the same time learning how to apply ‘bridgebuilding’ in their own lives. It also involves…
Training and orientation
The first weeks in October or January is for training and getting acquainted. Specific training modules continue all year long. The training involves cross-cultural, language learning and understanding the mission of building bridges. The training also includes cross-denominational understanding of the roots of the European Christian heritage, involving some field work and practical learning experiences.
Contacting and mobilising young people
Volunteers have the option to become part of a local youth group. This could be for just one or two weekends per month and it would be a church youth group that – as much as possible – fits the interests and background of the volunteer. In some situations, the volunteer becomes part of a Bridgebuilders Club, a youth exchange club preparing to meet a youth group from another country. In each case the role of the volunteer will be one of providing assistance and help with intercultural insights and what they are learning during the training.
Working as a cross-cultural team
Volunteers come from different cultures and backgrounds. They work as a team to take on one or more projects together while they help each other with their individual projects. It is arranged during the first months of their stay with the help of the Regional Support Team, staff and trainers. Each team member is expected to help build the team with their special talent or ability.
Volunteers are encouraged to use their talents and interests to initiate and develop their own project or activity(s) within their region or place of work. Each ESC-er has both a mentor and a coach to help create a project for local impact to stimulate their talents and to develop personal growth.
Different parts of the mission
Based on their talents, interests and Activity Agreement, some of the volunteers focus on being a support team for the local setting, helping to run local activities such as a monthly coffee house, language club or youth restaurant, connecting with youth projects of other groups in Kruiningen and surrounding towns. Others are placed in the region where they build contact with youth in schools, assist in language learning, and be part of a youth group or Bridgebuilders Club. The community may also include one or more Circuit Riders, young and upcoming artists, who have more of an itinerant mission performing in schools and before youth groups. Often they are on tour to other countries, sometimes for a week or longer.
Volunteer profiles and recruitment process
Important criteria for choosing volunteers are motivation, flexibility, friendliness, and initiative-taking. We need volunteers who enjoy meeting people, who have an interest in working with young people and are team players. It is helpful if they are able to verbalise and present their culture, background and convictions; and can adapt to a cross-cultural setting. We need them to be in accord with Atlantic Bridge’s methodology of relational youth work. A basic knowledge of English is important as it is the main language used at the centre. And finally, Atlantic Bridge is a Christian organisation and we require respect and openness towards this aspect.
We select volunteers based on the above criteria as well as on how their skills, interests, experiences and education match the goals of the project and the making of a team. Team building is a crucial part of building bridges and creating a local impact. On top of that, each project may require its own particular type of volunteer and we match volunteer and project as much as possible.
For volunteers from the European Union we have funding from the Erasmus+ program so all costs are covered and that includes a monthly amount for pocket money of € 150.
Interested individuals fill in and send us an Application Form. Once approved, plans are made with the sending agent to get acquainted. If there is a Visa issue, we work that out as soon as possible. After that it is a matter of setting the time and place of arrival.
About Atlantic Bridge
Atlantic Bridge is an international Christian youth organisation. Our vision is to build bridges of friendship, faith and understanding and break down walls of prejudice, ignorance and indifference between young people from different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. This is accomplished through internships, ESC hosting and sending, youth exchanges, international youth festivals, contact building in schools and youth groups and various other (regional) activities. The organisation is based in Kruiningen, The Netherlands. Atlantic Bridge has an extensive network both in Europe and in North America.