October 21, 2010

Open Forum "Faces and Fakings of Volunteering"

The Open Forum Bruges "Faces and Fakings of Volunteering" on 26-28 November 2010 is the first part of the project v11 which consists of a series of events contributing to the European Year of Volunteering 2011. As a first attempt to approach the topic, this weekend event will provide a framework for discussing different understandings and meanings of the term “volunteering”. This project is supported by the European Union under the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme.

What is the OpenForum Bruges about?

2011 was declared the “European Year of Volunteering” by the European Union. All over Europe Institutions and organisations will highlight the importance of volunteering for individual development and for society. Together with partner organisations from all over the continent, Citizens of Europe will realise a series of events and activities dealing with volunteering. As a first attempt to approach the topic, the OpenForum in Bruges will provide a framework for discussing different understandings and meanings of the term “volunteering”.

The aims are in particular:
- to map different meanings of the term volunteering in different social environments and based on different cultural backgrounds
- to define voluntary work in contrastation with other forms of unpaid work
- to analyse different motivations of volunteers and their respective contexts
- to identify interesting questions, controversies and topics to be addressed during the coming phases of the project and the Workshop/Seminar day on 6 May 2011 during the European Days of Volunteering in Landau in der Pfalz.

What are OpenFora?

OpenFora are weekend debates. Their objective is to bring together people from all Europe – regardless of their age, social or professional background – in order to exchange views and experience on topics related with current social and political life in Europe. So far, we have realised nine of them (see http://www.openfora.eu).

OpenFora setup spaces where European diversity can be experienced in practice. They are not conferences where showmanship is the top priority. They do not target at a specific group – be it youngsters, academics, politicians, media professional, or whatsoever. Instead, OpenFora welcome all people that are willing to actively participate in a European debate on topics that are important to them.

OpenFora is part of the Citizens of Europe project portfolio. Each OpenForum is realized with the support of a local partner organisation. The OpenForum 10 in Bruges is part of the project cycle “v11”, Citizens of Europe’s contribution to the European Year of Volunteering 2011.

Whom would we like to meet in Bruges?

Every one willing to actively engage in a debate characterized by low hierarchies is welcome to this OpenForum. All opinions are valuable and will be considered. Academic and professional backgrounds are relevant for us only to the extend they allow for interesting contributions to the debate.

We are willing to meet participants coming from the public and private sector, the academic community, civil society, arts, etc. Involving people with a variety of personal backgrounds will contribute to a lively debate with substantial results. We are particularly interested in people and organisations interested also in contributing to future parts of our project v11.

What does the OpenForum Bruges offers?

The weekend debate will follow a three-phased schedule (opening audience discussion, workshop, and special closing event). Hierarchies are meant to be particularly low, everybody coming will be encouraged and expected to contribute with own thoughts, knowledge and experience. Citizens of Europe will present a framework, initiate the debates and involve the participants according to their personal profiles and the points of view expressed when applying.

What will you gain by participating in the OpenForum Bruges?

You will get to know people involved In voluntary work or dealing with it from different contexts and geographical backgrounds. You will network and exchange experiences among exciting people; you will appreciate mutual respect and recognition when initiating and participating in a transnational European debate.

What are the conditions for participating?

Participation requires the ability to take part in a debate held in English language.

Room and board are included. A participation fee of max. EUR 60,00 (according to your place of residence) needs to be transferred to our bank account after your application has been accepted.

Find out about the fee applicable to you on: http://wiki.citizens-of-europe.eu/images/c/c0/Participation_fees_OFBruges.pdf

On request, we can refund travel tickets (max 70 %, max. 125 EUR).

What do you need to do in order to apply?

1. Fill in our application form and motivational letter, downloadable at: http://wiki.citizens-of-europe.
2. Write a short text (up to 4.000-5.000 characters), or send us visual material produced by you, which may provide an answer to one of the following questions:
• Is volunteering a life style?
• Examples for a misuse of the term “volunteering”
• Why I am a volunteer
• Volunteering & Exploitation – where is the borderline?

We are happy to receive any additional material of yours on the general programme “Contemporary Challenges to Europe” or on the specific topic of OpenForum Bruges (e.g. Internet links, artistic works, publications, etc…).

Please send your application to the following address: office@citizens-of-europe.eu with the subject: OpenForum Bruges.

The deadline for applications is 30 October 2010.


  1. Can participants from Armenia apply for the forum, or is it only for EU members?

  2. As stated in the leaflet on participation fees (http://wiki.citizens-of-europe.eu/images/c/c0/Participation_fees_OFBruges.pdf) the Forum is open to EU members and Eastern & Southeastern
    Europe. I doubt about Armenia, but you may all the same ask at office@citizens-of-europe.eu.