Thursday, August 12, 2010

Part of 1.3 billion, part of the world

Each time I go to China, I go deeper - few hunder kilometer deeper at a time. I stay longer too - few days longer at a time. As if the 20 odd years of my grandparent's life is not enough - I went back again and again, as if the extend the "log-in" time or their presence in mainland China, their beloved nother land. Except I went in, each time, as an alien - and so it will remain.

Talking of which I have sent email questionnaire to 3 IVS organzations from China (Hong Kong included, but not Taiwan - well, I am not up to these kinda debate anyway). Most of us (me included!) might have heard about or came in touch with VYA-Taiwan and Voltra-Hong Kong - both organizations, in my opinion, are considered well managed and successful. For instance I have seens (well, videos CDs! Get one from Klaus!) how wonderfully VYA-Taiwan mobilised the local youth and mass media, transformed a junk yard/old house into a piece of art with the help of volunteers, at the same time motivates local residents. I am also amazed with how well Hong Kong's volunteer understand the development of Voltra, highly motivated as young as they (rather, he/she) are.

But my interest also lies in two other Chinese organzations. That is where we, really, start counting the part of the 1.3 billions population. Or part of China. Both Hainan and Yunan province are located in the extreme southern part of China, symbolically represents an entry point to IVS organzations in China. For me, it is even more meaningful - it was my grandparent's decision (or forced to, under circumstances) leave to Hainan province in those troubled years that lead to the creation me: the third-generation here in Malaysia. My long lost cousin-bro now study Vietnamese langugage in Yunan province - "It's good for me, since it is not too far from Haikou/my family," he said.

So in fact each time when I go to China, my connection with China grew deeper - few stories and beers at a time. I may not be the part of the 1.3 billions, but will be forever part of the world. China wouldn't care less if I am part of them - their one-child policy actually delayed the population growth to 1.3 billions for 4 years.

But each one of us in IVS counts - as how each outgoing email requesting us to accept a volunteer, or incoming email of sending one. Needless to say, your reply to my questionnaire counts too - and for this, I say thank you in advance!

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's Jasper, CIVS Nairobi!

If you still thinking who will be the FIRST to reply my questionnaire, well, don't.

It's Jasper of CIVS Nairobi - or CIVS Kenya. For some reason I like the word "Nairobi" very much - Kenya isn't all that bad but Nairobi is beautiful! Anyway, thank you so much, Jasper! You certainly give me the good start I wanted, and the motivation to work even harder - I wasn't expect first reply to be within hours!

But really, this is far from over - Jasper is the first of many that are still pending:

SCI branches/Groups - 43
Latin America - 15
Africa and Middle East - 39 (Jasper is in, so out at the list!)
NVDA and Asia Pasific - 23

Yes, I need to "good luck", Jasper! Particularly I haven't reach ALL the IVS organizations - there is still others in the CCIVS member's list that I have not heard before (EFIL, IBO, etc.), let alone understand them or know what they are doing. In addition there are many still to email: Central Asia, Russia, Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe...just too many of them. It's a tedious and hard work, but also a huge MOVEMENT- I can only imagine, until all the reply comes it....The thought of being able to email EACH one of you raise my morale, not at all making me feel tired! 

But still, I am only human. Here I must apologize to Katja and friends of KVT Findland, as I wrongly address her organization "IVP Australia" - what a blunder! It's "copy and paste" no doubt, or a least the main part of the text, but I try my best to personalize my email as much as possible. If there is 121 emails, it will require 121 clicks to send them all out, not just with one single click. Because I expect not less than 100 replies, that is.... :)

So, now I am going to email Jasper and tell him he is working too hard? :) But I guess I can understand that, it's a placement season, isn't it? I have never hold a position as placement officer but believe me, the general enquiry mails also increase substaintially during this period (I was the Office LTV in SCI-International Secretariat from 2008-2009), apart from different emails get clogged somewhere in SCI Mailing systems, volunteer/activist leaving/joinning the list etc.

In brief I wish eveyone out there have a good one!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

About this blogpage

This blogpage is dedicated to the research on international voluntary service organization (IVS) around the world. Your organization will be invited to take part in the research if they are being identified as (CCIVS membership criteria):

a.) An international voluntary service (IVS) which is a coordinating body consisting of national organizations, and/or,

b.) National or state-based youth or voluntary service organization involved in voluntary work and with established relations with other voluntary service organization in its country of registration with regional and/or international relationships.

This research will leads to a successful completion of International Masters in Regional Integration (IMRI), currently pursued by the me at Asia-Europe Institute (AEI).

It is hopeful that this research will contribute to the understanding of current trend in international voluntary service (IVS) movement, apart from the wonderful work done by volunteer and activist alike on the ground.

Now that the 'official' introduction is over, you might ask: What, really, motivates me to research on this topic?

Well, ever since I am involved in IVS movement, I sometimes get disappointed when many never heard about IVS (despite all the great effort/work, under challenging conditions), let alone trying to differentiate IVS from other NGO. But this is probably not their fault but the fault of our own making. We sometimes do not understand ourselves or agree on a unified definition of IVS. For instance, just when I think I know what IVS is all about, I found some CCIVS member organization (i.e. EFIL, IBO) that I have never heard about. Other example: I have also never came in contact with any ICYE activist/activity, or EAWA for that matter. This is probably my own ignorance, or there is no such necessity. But nonetheless, I wish to, through my research, get an overview of IVS organizations' health/profile, and hopefully connecting them to each other (for those who have not or long overdue).

Secondly and referring to CCIVS President report of 2006, I am also interested to know why IVS is mostly youth-based, while in fact most of us are not a youth organization. I follow the traces left by the money/fund and that leads me back to European Union's youth policy. Hence I am interested to know how their policy evolves and other non-European IVS organization get absorbed into it as well - a typical rolling-effect of this supranational body. In my opinion, it is important that we understand the origins of EU-IVS relationship before we can closely examine its impact or influences.

Of course, there are more questions awaiting to be answered - a goal which cannot be achieved by myself, or in one research. Hence your feedback and support is very much appreciated - in particular I will soon send the questionnaire to your respective organization.

In longer term, however, I hope we all will be always in touch - like a saying in SCI "once you get involved, you never really leave". This is more like the reason why I decided to create this blogpage - I didn't give much space for discussion in my questionnaire, nor all volunteers can be involved in the questionnaire (mostly organizational things). But we can certainly talk and communicate here.

I can be reached at kokchang.low [at]

More updates on the research will be available as when they are available to me.

Thank you so much for your time and your participation and solidarity will be much appreciated!