For several years now, CartONG has been recruiting civic service volunteers to support collaborative mapping activities, in particular mapathons. This year, CartONG participated for the first time in the International Volunteering and Reciprocity initiative.
International Volunteering and Reciprocity
The International Volunteering and Reciprocity is a variant of the civic service volunteer program. It aims at encouraging the international mobility of young people. In France, it enables a young volunteer from a foreign country to carry out a civic service mission, in the same way as young French people undertake missions abroad.
This approach is proving to be a real asset in strengthening the localization of our projects, while encouraging fruitful exchanges and knowledge sharing. By pooling our skills with those of our volunteers, we aim to improve our practices. Find out how this new collaboration nurtures our day-to-day work.
Missions on challenging and wide-reaching projects
Photo taken during the mapathon organized
In the first quarter of 2023, Alpha and Ezéchiel joined the CartONG team and focused on organizing the GeoNight, which took place in April. Their involvement led to closer and more direct collaboration with local OpenStreetMap (OSM) communities, making this an international event. This year's event attracted 230 participants from over 6 countries.
At the same time, Alpha and Ezéchiel started working on the CartODD project, which seeks to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among young people in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region, using mapping and an interactive game. Although initially conceived for a local audience, this project will acquire an international resonance, notably thanks to the contributions of Alpha and Ezéchiel, which will make it applicable to other contexts beyond France.
"Alpha and I are originally from West Africa, and thanks to this project, we've been able to make the voice of our realities heard and bring a concrete dimension to the activities we set up. We identified the challenges involved in making the game accessible to a wider audience and enabling OSM communities to get to grips with it," explains Ezéchiel. He continues: "During the desing of the game, many OSM communities were consulted to integrate their own pathways."
Improving the localization of our actions with their experience
CartODD tackles a number of issues, including climate change and migration, which are of concern to everyone. Ezéchiel admits: "My knowledge of the field and local needs enables us to better orientate the project and provide an appropriate response. We suggest, we study the feasibility and we integrate!" He continues: "This civic service volunteer program enables me to learn new methodologies and practices, while at the same time bringing in my own experience. It's a way of sharing know-how."
"I can improve both what I do at home and what I do here. I already have some suggestions for improvements that I'd like to bring back home, particularly in terms of work methodologies and the management of sensitive data" develops Ezéchiel. A feeling fully shared by Alpha: "CartONG's ethical approach to project design and implementation is key, and has had a real impact on my practices and my perception. I really discovered responsible data management during this civic service volunteer program."
"Being a civic service volunteer brings real legitimacy in proposing areas for improvement, whether here in France or back home," explains Ezéchiel, "Thanks to my knowledge, I've been able to contribute to strengthening links with local OSM communities. However, I'd like to see this collaboration intensify further. CartONG, like many other organizations in the sector, needs to rely on local organizations in order to collaborate better and be closer to local realities and needs" he concludes.
Presentation of the CartODD project by Ezéchiel and Alpha during State of The Map Marseille
Civic service, a springboard for young people...
Civic service is also an enriching human, personal and professional experience. It's an opportunity to get to know professionals from different sectors, exchange ideas, discover other areas of activity and develop your skills.
"After my bachelor's degree, I didn't know in which field I wanted to specialize or what Master's degree to choose. Thanks to the civic service volunteer program, I was not only able to discover mapping - I have a specialization in international cooperation - but also to get an insight into a sector that interests me. The experience really helped me in my choice of career path and Master's degree!" confides Alpha. "We're lucky to be well accompanied at CartONG and to be able to learn and propose at the same time, while doing meaningful things."
...and an experience you want to recommend
Alpha: "I strongly advise all young people to seize the opportunity of civic service volunteer positions, as they give you the chance to discover new things and gain experience in humanitarian and development projects. The CartONG mission is particularly exciting, combining mapping, coordinating and hosting mapathons, as well as taking part in other enriching events. It's very fulfilling! And the surroundings here in Chambéry are very pleasant."
Ezéchiel: "It's great to have this experience at CartONG, where the team is already multicultural. It's easy to integrate and you can feel that a lot of effort is put into making everyone - staff, civic service volunteers, interns, volunteers - feel welcome!"
Both will soon complete their experience, and we're already looking for the next civic service volunteer. Interested? Apply now!
CartODD's initiative is part of Mindchangers’ project. This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union, through RESACOOP within Mindchangers – Regions and youth for Planet and People. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CartONG and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.