A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
You are an international, into sustainability and interested in volunteering? Then keep on reading, this is for you!
When I started my studies, I had a very long list of things I wanted to do as a student. However, it was easier said than done. After all, everyday-life is busy enough on its own. To help you get started with volunteering, I’d like to introduce this new mini-series!
First up for you in the spotlight: The WWF Expat Team of The Hague (and sometimes Amsterdam).
Who We Are
As the name suggests, this group consists of expats from around The Hague that want to do something for the environment. The team is run by a handful of core members and a big pool of volunteers. As a volunteer, you are notified about upcoming events and then get to decide whether you can join. In other words, it’s ideal for everyone that has an erratic schedule (aka students)!
What We Do
The primary objective of the WWF Team is to raise awareness about environmental issues. This pertains to the extinction of species, destruction of natural habitat and – of course – climate change.
“The WWF Expat Team provides opportunities for people to express their concern for the environment into practical action.” – Official Statement
Typical events include charity runs, fairs and beach clean-ups. Always with us are the carbon footprint calculator (so you can measure your own CO2 impact) and the panda costume (because every cool gang needs a mascot).
The Carbon Footprint Calculator
Most of us know the basics when it comes to sustainability: Consume less, reduce emissions and eat plant-based. However, it can be difficult to judge how good you are doing. That’s what the CO2 calculator is for! You’ll see your overall carbon footprint, its main contributors and personalized advice on reducing your footprint.
Sounds good? Then check it out at http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/
The Panda Costume
The panda costume is a onesie with a panda head, and it’s quite warm in there. This means two different things: 1. You might curse it in summer. 2. It’s a blessing in winter.
The first time I put on the panda costume was when we were volunteering at a kindergarten event: face painting, playing games, selling merchandise to parents – the whole drill. The thing was, nobody expected the day to turn out so cold and rainy. We were doing our best, but the weather was demoralizing. It was time for our secret weapon!
Once in costume, it took mere seconds until our stand was surrounded by children. They were so excited, it was adorable. We would do cool handshakes, dance together and explore the kindergarten grounds. Some pointed out that I was wearing sneakers, which apparently is very un-panda-like.
While the expat team is collaborating mainly with the expat community (e.g. international schools) it can happen that you find yourself face to face with a Dutch kid. So what do you do when you don’t speak Dutch? You put on the panda costume! Since pandas don’t speak Dutch either (as far as we know) it’s totally fine to rely on your mime-skills.
The panda costume never fails to attract attention, so in the end, our face painting was a huge success.
How to Join
Intrigued? Then hit us up on Facebook or visit our WordPress page! We’ll fill you in on all the details and add you to the volunteer pool. See you at the next event!
What You Can Do in the Meantime