Group dynamics and dynamic groups
When volunteers are making an event, the motivation must be something other than money. Starting from the “we want you” announcement of AFF, it has always been about having a good time.
I was interested in AFF because, in addition to liking the idea of having fun with nice people, I wanted work experience in the culture sector. In many an internship the gist of it is that the unpaid intern gets to work the shredder or scrub the toilet, but in AFF there were real responsibilities for all motivated participants! It felt like Artova respected and valued the ideas and skills of our motley crew, a bunch with a very diverse background. This diversity made our event complete and multi-faceted, it couldn’t have been done without those different skills and points of view. The organisers should represent the same amount of diversity your desired audience has. The input from each team member spoke louder than any CV.
You learn by doing. New situations came up sometimes to the point of exhaustion and as there was only a month to get everything done, there wasn’t always time to sit down and just scratch one’s head. Sometimes I felt very incompetent next to my colleagues with university background because they had plenty of experience in working with projects and team work. I learned a lot about working in a culture organisation and planning ahead, and I also learned to use some new computer programs. Clear and simple online materials and notes left behind by previous teams helped us to really understand the event and the work we were doing.
I had reservations about haste, deadlines and a pre-determined end result and was surprised to find that they all made the organisation process more meaningful. I had always thought of myself as someone who likes to work independently, on her own, but this time working in a team felt comfortable and pleasant and it became the lifeblood of the entire event. Doing everything on one’s own would have been very frustrating, useless and way too intense.
The AFF employees showed us the ropes and what I thought was particularly great was that it was possible to tailor one’s job description to match one’s studies or career hopes, at least to some extent. The general atmosphere was very open, and any problems were discussed in intensive meetings where everyone’s voice was heard. You were allowed to ask questions. In this type of “communal” work, individual habits for doing things merged into one… although there were a few collisions we couldn’t avoid. Meeting regularly helped us to become a unified group. At every point in the process, everyone got to determine their own level of commitment. In voluntary work, it’s very important to have the feeling that they want me and my qualities for this task, not just some guy.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.