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"Discover the We in You" - Closing Event of the European Volunteering Capital 2021 on International Volunteer Day

This year, Berlin held the title of "European Volunteering Capital/EVC". With this, the European Volunteering Center CEV in Brussels honored the more than 1.1 million Berliners who volunteer in our city. With a digital closing event on December 5, 2021 live from the Rotes Rathaus (with a total of 3,741 livestream views), we looked back on a successful year. The highlights of the campaign year and the people who made it possible were in the foreground.

© Jens Ahner
© Jens Ahner
SAWSAN CHEBLI, DEPUTY MAYOR OF GDANSK MONIKA CHABIOR AND DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN VOLUNTEERING (CEV) GABRIELLA CIVICO (FROM RIGHT TO LEFT).

On International Volunteer Day, we celebrated the commitment of all Berliners, passed the baton to Gdansk, the Volunteer Capital 2022, and congratulated Trondheim, the Volunteer Capital 2023, who officially received their title nomination by the European Volunteer Center on the same evening.

The State Secretary for Civic Engagement and International Affairs, Sawsan Chebli, delivered the welcoming address. In it, she thanked everyone who made the year possible and helped shape it, especially the many committed Berliners. She emphasized the European dimension and the importance of volunteering for our democracy: "The European Year of Volunteers has brought about a great mobilization in civil society in Berlin. Many associations and organizations have proudly worn the title and embraced the European idea. At the same time, together we have been able to generate strong visibility for volunteering and volunteers throughout the city. But also through new perspectives and more networking, especially with the help of innovative approaches in the Corona period, volunteering has gained increased value as systemically relevant to our democracy and has thus moved high up the political agenda as a topic. This title was an opportunity that we seized. Now we need to take the newfound momentum with us and continue to improve the framework conditions for volunteering in the next legislative period."

The film shows the highlights of the #EVCapital Berlin 2021 campaign year.
© Jens Ahner
KATJA JÄGER FROM THE VOLUNTEER CAPITAL PROJECT OFFICE, WHICH BETTERPLACE LAB AND THE SCHWARZKOPF FOUNDATION YOUNG EUROPE JOINTLY STAGED.

Afterwards, the EVC project office, represented by Katja Jäger, presented a review of the activities of the volunteer year.  The four main topics of the campaign year were: Innovation, Digitalization, Diversity and Europe. In addition to the action of the volunteers at the Brandenburg Gate, Katja Jäger named other highlights such as the Study Visit, the innovation contest, various events (such as the discussion event on the post-work society), the many portraits of the committed Berliners and led over to the steering committee of the volunteer capital. The actors active in it from Berlin's civil society, politics, administration and business supported the project office during the campaign year and conveyed their statements in a video message: 

In addition to musical performances by singer AŸA and 14-year-old winner of this year's #FARBENBEKENNEN award Shantal Azar, representatives of civil society - Kaweh Niroomand (Managing Director Berlin Recycling Volleys), Elke Schilling (Initiator and 1st Chairwoman of Silbernetz e.V.) and Hendrikje Schmidt (Psychological Management Team krisenchat) - shared their perspectives on civic engagement during this special volunteer year.

© Jens Ahner
Kaweh Niroomand, Hendrikje Schmidt, Elke Schilling und rbb-Moderatorin Petra Gute (from left to right)
© Jens Ahner
WINNER OF THIS YEAR'S #FARBENBEKENNEN-AWARD SHANTAL AZAR AT THE PIANO.

The view from outside on the European Volunteer Capitals competition was given to us by Gabriella Civico (Director of CEV, Centre for European Volunteering) and two of the jury members of the competition: Monica Lallai from Italy and Krzystof Pater from Poland. 

At the end of the event, there was an opportunity to exchange ideas digitally. Three digital thematic spaces were provided for this purpose: Neighborhood (represented by the Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit e.V. - Landesverband Berlin), Open Source (represented by CityLab Berlin) and Migration (represented by Migrationsrat Berlin e.V.).  The evening was moderated by rbb presenter Petra Gute.

© Jens Ahner
SINGER AŸA SANG THE FAREWELL SONG: "YOU'RE NOT ALONE".

The recording of the event was published on youtube, to rewatch: please follow the link (only in German available).