Hosting Volunteers One of the pleasures of hosting volunteers is meeting and getting to know the amazing mix of characters who visit the project from all corners of the globe. To date there has been eighty seven volunteers from twenty four countries including Japan, Taiwan, Argentina, Canada, Australia, India, America, and Europe.
Each individual comes with their own experiences, ideas and philosophies. Many are creative people, artists, writers, musicians, who are keen not only to work in return for accommodation and food, but also to put something of themselves into the project. We have structures, sculptures, paving, paintings and poems created by volunteers, and there is always the possibility to collaborate and exchange ideas with other like-minded people. Another bonus is the various styles of cooking brought to the project by people from different cultural backgrounds, from French crepes and Argentinian spicy peppers, to Bulgarian tarator and banitsa. The local food is fresh produce which, in this fertile area, includes some of the biggest and tastiest vegetables we have ever encountered. Free range eggs, fresh milk and local honey are welcome additions to our diet. Shared conversation and nights around a fire with music, song and poetry are also enjoyed. On warm evenings we sometimes watch films projected on a large screen in the garden and, again, the film library benefits with favourite films being added by the people passing through.
However, sharing living and work space with a continuously changing group of individuals, also has it’s challenges. We are open-minded and generous and do not expect too much labour in return for bed and board, but occasionally someone will turn up who has a less than positive attitude. Those people who think that volunteering means doing as little work as they can possibly get away with, should examine their motives for being a volunteer worker. Volunteering is not a free holiday. It costs money to accommodate and feed people. And it takes time to introduce new people to the project and to explain the work involved. There is an enormous amount of work to do and we get enquiries from more people than we can accommodate. Time-wasters not only let us down, they take up space that could be utilised by more committed individuals. We aim to give our volunteers a positive and valued experience. We hope and expect that volunteers will do the same for us.
Hosting has been a huge learning experience. At the beginning, we made everyone welcome but, after a few disappointing individuals (less than 10%) arrived and introduced an unhealthy atmosphere into our small community, we have become more careful about deciding who is invited to join us. If someone does not have enthusiasm for the project and a willingness to become truly involved, then we would rather that person did not come.
Having said that, we feel privileged and honoured to play host to the vast majority of the wonderful volunteers who have helped make ufo studios a lively and exciting project that continues to grow and expand. That they also enjoyed the experience is evidenced by the fact that many have expressed a desire to pay a second visit, and several already have returned. We look forward to sharing our ideas, our space, and our leisure time with many more. April 2012