Interview with Natalia Asanova
What is a Volunteer School? How is the learning process organized?
A Blood service volunteer school in Mordovia was opened in April 2014. An idea of the project came from the medical student’s contest "Intellectual assorted show" Blood donation - an act of mercy. Four teams from medical colleges in Republic of Mordovia presented on contest not only professional skills, but also creative achievements. Future doctors solved the tasks in such a masterful way, brought much energy and positive to the staff and guests of the Mordovian Republican Blood Transfusion Station that we wanted to continue cooperation with them. First, we sent offers of cooperation in the field of blood donation to numerous educational institutions in the region. Many responded immediately. Then we began inviting representatives of non-profit organizations, businesses, employees of state departments and offices to the Volunteer school. That’s how we formed our circle of students and partners. Now school is an effective instrument of donorship promotion, as well as volunteering in general.
What goals do you set? Do you have a school schedule?
The goal of the school is a volunteer regular donorship promotion through dialogue, consolidation and interaction between Blood service and the region with donors and volunteers. We would like to attract people and train them in the process of learning, organize their work for the benefit of the donorship development in the republic. For the whole academic year, which begins in the same way as in educational institutions, from September 1, a detailed schedule is drawn up. As new volunteer groups are attracted or when new ideas arise, we adjust our plan. We always have more events than originally planned, which we are certainly very pleased about. All suggestions of volunteers are always taken into account. The individual approach to work is important for us, so any expression of interest to the donorship is always welcome.
Who comes to your school? What are the students' motivation?
The Volunteer school is an excellent place for close interaction between the Blood Service with representatives of different social groups. Students, pupils, corporate partners, representatives of non-profit organizations, the media come to us. Their motivation is different. Some want to get information about donorship from firsthand, some want to promote donorship to their workforce, some plan to create own social project, and by the way, there are great opportunities for this in the donorship. But all these people, in my opinion, are united by the sincere need of help to others, serve the society at this particular time and place. Our students know how well it can be realized with the help of the donor movement.
What peculiarities should a volunteer have in order to become not just a communicator, but a reliable public donor?
Everyone can promote donorship, it depends only on a desire. But a reliable specialist in the field of donation of blood, in addition to good heartedness and humanity, which, in my opinion, are the basis of volunteer consciousness, must have a number of personal qualities - responsibility, punctuality, sociability and, of course, a willingness to sacrifice their interests for the benefit of others.
What training courses does the school offer? Who conducts classes?
The academic year is divided into the autumn and spring semesters. The autumn classes are a theoretical stage there we provide lectures in groups. Further, the most interested in the topic of donorship, in an organized manner come to our station. Here the basic education process begins: lectures, conversations, excursions, trainings and creation of projects. Leading experts of the Mordovian Republican Blood Transfusion Station talk about the donorship, its aspects, answer questions.
The spring classes are a practical stage, we come with volunteers to schools, preschools, hospitals, where our students try themselves as organizers of the donorship. At the same time projects are being finalized, flash mobs are being presented, ideas are being formed for the next academic year. All volunteers after graduation get certificates and souvenirs, the most active are awarded with prizes. But it should be noted that the school, of course, is not limited to strict seasonal frames, work is in full progress both in winter and in summer, all year around.
How do you follow students after graduation? How often do they begin conducting independent volunteer activities?
As usual, people are coming to us at the call of the heart, remain in the donor movement for a long time. In addition, many of our volunteers, impressed with the topic of blood donation, become active donors. We keep in touch with them, willingly assist in the work, regardless of their further choice of volunteer direction. The peculiarity of the volunteering in our small region is that volunteers are not limited to one area of activity, they successfully combine work in donorship with participation in other social projects. In my opinion, the volunteer movement as a whole gets profit, because there is an excellent opportunity to bring together all the most valuable of the best volunteer practices and implement the experience gained in their work, in any professional field.
And our traditional question: what would you like to wish to donors and those who are just going to join donorship?
Dear donors, I would like to wish you at first strong health! Your blood is a valuable gift, your decision is someone's life. Thank you for your choice for the benefit of society! For volunteers in the field of blood donation, the Volunteer school has a wonderful slogan: “Share your life! Begin with yourself! Be an example!” Like donors, blood service volunteers have already made their choice.
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