STAFF: A Vollie’s view of the Helen Storrow Seminar – Catherine (UK)

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It’s been a while since the seminar now so I thought I’d share how it was to be a volunteer at the time; it was certainly a week to remember at Our Chalet.

As a vollie, the first day was spent making sure that everything around the Chalet  was as spic, span and shiny as it possibly could be. More and more participants arrived every hour, so that by the time the dinner bell rang, the Chalet was almost bursting!

Then came the tour, which was good despite it being a little tricky to point out buildings in the dark.ImageWe were all up bright and early the next morning for the opening ceremony. Luckily(?) for us, so were the snow clouds…. All through the speeches, songs and handing out of badges, everyone was dusted heavily in cold, cold icing sugar.

Then as the seminar activities ran, us vollies skipped (well maybe not quite skipped) around the Chalet to scrub at anything that wasn’t quite as sparkly as it should be (let’s just say snow is beautiful until it comes inside and creates puddles all over the boot room…)

After cooking, we’d dash out of the kitchen and squeeze in with the participants. Each mealtime had its own personality; as we lapped up various dishes of Swiss cuisine, we’d share stories from our home countries. It was always hard to leave the table but Derek (the dishwasher) would be beckoning, so off we ran to the kitchen to scrub Pollard (the pot) and all her friends; all in perfect time to songs from the resident Disney c.d.

Before International Night, we had to clean everything in the seemingly impossible time of 40 minutes. I’ve never seen anyone run around the kitchen as crazily and efficiently as we did that night… Quite miraculously, well thanks to Catt really, (she definitely wasn’t bribed scones), we finished with 3 minutes to spare!  ImageWe dived straight into the activities; learning all kinds of dance from Arabic to Irish, Salsa to Azunto. It was wonderful. Just as you thought that you were entirely out of breath and absolutely had to collapse on the floor, someone would start teaching another song, dance or game from the other side of the world and before you’d know it, you’d find yourself joining in.

Assisting with running the seminar was fun too. It was fascinating to hear project ideas from all the participants; each one was so different, so unique and yet everyone had the same clear vision for improving the environment in their local area.

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The closing ceremony was very appropriately at the same time as Earth Hour, so whilst the Chalet was in darkness, outside we all placed tea lights in the shape of a trefoil. We listened to readings, thank you’s and goodbyes from everybody, until it was time for each participant in sing Taps in their own native language.

Afterwards, some us went to lie in the snow on the front lawn, it was entirely black but for the faint glow of Adelboden through the trees. We lay there for some time, growing colder and colder, just looking up at the stars and listening to the nothingness.Image

Catherine Rose
Spring Volunteer – UK

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