La experiencia de voluntariado de Melina en OCC Barcelona

I am Melina, half Cypriot and half German and 28 years old. I am passionate about travelling, photography, art and good food. In my free time you will find me doing yoga, dancing salsa, visiting art galleries, flea markets and film festivals or spending time at the beach – with friends or alone with a book. Oh and I love to party – a lot!

After graduating in Media and Communications I had the chance to work in several really cool and creative companies in Berlin and Barcelona, mainly organising events and creating content. Even though I learnt a lot, I was missing the deeper meaning and human aspect. My plan is to use my skills and knowledge for a good, less commercial and more meaningful (to me) cause.

During a holiday in Barcelona, I had the chance to get to know OCC thanks to my Catalan friend Laia. It was a warm afternoon when we headed there by moped in order to pick up some “Amigo Mio” books for the Sant Jordi Day at hand. I liked the chilled ambiente and felt inspired by the mission and activities they were carrying out. I thought: “I would like to work at a place like this, for projects like the ones they are working on…”! Moreover I always wanted to do long term voluntary work abroad and OCC seemed the perfect place to do so.

A few months later I applied for an ESC project at OCC and here I am! After working for the last 4 years in Berlin’s fast paced startup and quite commercial environment, which I am not at all regretting, the contrary in fact, as I learned and grew a lot, OCC seemed just a total different world to me – human, laid-back, a little bit chaotic, not hip and super fancy, but 100% enchanting! The most exciting about this project though was the fact that I would have the chance to work in an international team including refugees and migrants. Besides my personal concerns and interest, actively contributing to this field, just seemed so inspiring and meaningful to me.

I am not sure whether this is good or bad, but I am definitely not a routine person. The great thing at OCC is that my assigned tasks vary a lot, I am never getting bored and there is much room for new ideas and being creative! Mainly I am responsible for the creation of content for the social media channels (photos,, texts and quizzes), the newsletters, the organisation of intercultural events and photography.

Besides the mission and projects, what I also find inspiring at OCC are the people of the organisation. I am really happy I am having the chance to be part of this highly motivated and ambitious team and being around people from all the world. It is super interesting to see how all of us work and think in a different way and how the work approach differs. These distinctions can make the teamwork tricky and challenging sometimes, but in the end they are also enriching.

One of my favourite quotes says “Sharing is Caring”… This is exactly what I experienced by sharing the flat with some of the other volunteers. After sharing not only the same apartment, but also plenty of time, thoughts, worries and countless moments laughing our heads off, you can’t but care about them. From just flat mates they became friends, people I really care a lot about and I already know I will miss a lot.

Thanks to them now I know how to prepare falafel and baba ghanoush, I learned a few really useful words in Arabic and some nice songs and oh, I also gained at least 3 kilos, which obviously is their fault! I just couldn’t resist myself, the food they cook is simply too tasty…!

The most important though for me is that that they taught me altruism, being grateful and that even though we are culturally quite different in some aspects, which can make it not always easy when living together, in others we are really close. Rarely before I felt like people from other cultures and social backgrounds could understand me in the extend these lovely souls from Syria and Afghanistan are able to. I admire them for many reasons and I am really grateful I was lucky enough to meet them.

There are only a few weeks left until the end of my volunteering project at OCC. They say time flies, when you are having fun. This is the case here, too. I am sad it will be over soon, but looking with excitement towards what is coming, as, as usual, I am having many ideas and new projects in my head. For sure I am volunteering on Chios during the summer and I plan to spend a lot of time at the beach, with my family and friends.