Lama Zeinoun

Volunteering in Finland can be more interesting than a university degree

Lama Zeinoun

Tabet, Lebanon

SALTO took Lama from Human Resources to supporting young people’s careers and development

SALTO had a big impact on me and my community.

My connection with SALTO started in 2008, when I took part in a SALTO EuroMed conference on youth participation in the Euromed context. I really enjoyed the event and the energy it brought to youth work in the region.

I gradually became more connected, through applying to participate in other SALTO trainings, including the long-term training of trainers and multipliers.

SALTO helped me to understand that non-formal training is an interesting and viable career path that could benefit both me and those around me. And so, I decided to leave the world of HR (Human Resources) and become a trainer and a development worker.

I really liked SALTO’s focus on long-term impact and change in personal and professional lives of the people we work with; it’s a hallmark of all the European youth programmes. I lacked this in the Lebanese business setting, as there was far too much focus on profit and productivity and not enough focus on processes and changing people’s lives.

SALTO had a big impact on my community and my organisation, Chabibeh Sporting Club. We were a very small local Lebanese NGO, doing local work with young people through sports and youth activities especially volunteering. When Lebanon was still eligible to apply for EuroMed funding, we applied to host projects in our country. We later partnered with European organisations to develop and implement projects in Europe and in Lebanon even when we could not directly apply, which was after the end of the Euromed Youth programme.

The spirit of cooperation was always stronger than the limited budgets available.

So many of our young people found lasting friendships and skills thanks to SALTO and the Erasmus+ Programme. I remember one young volunteer who had just come back from doing their EVS in Finland and in their first job interview, the employer wanted to know more about their EVS placement than their university degree. In fact, in an impact study we did with our youth, we found that 84% added non-formal learning outcomes and skills acquired in our European projects to their CV.

Many of our young people have also started working in the humanitarian and development fields, and this is a real point of pride for our organisation, especially as we are entirely volunteer-run and everyone puts their heart and soul into their work. Until now and after 12 years, I keep my contact and my partnership with SALTO e.g. in my current job with GIZ in Lebanon, I collaborated with SALTO and the Italian NA of Erasmus Plus to organize a seminar in Lebanon. This is a SALTO snowball kind of thing that you can do; a real strength of the network and of the community that we are, even if we are now far away from each other.

Connection to SALTO:

Lama was a participant in many SALTO activities, and a trainer and long-term partner of the SALTO network

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