This week: Indre Kalinauskaite
Indre Kalinauskaite from Lithuania is not unknown to many international students. She is the driving force behind the Common Room and devotes herself more than 100 % to turn this initiative into a success.
'You are European, so you don't have the pressure of a scholarship', is what Indre hears a lot when searching for new volunteers. Non-European students must finish their studies within two years because of the scholarship they are getting. European students are not bothered by that. "That is definitely a big difference", she agrees. "Then again, I'm not asking anyone to put in as many hours as I do myself. Just a few hours a week, surely that should be feasible? Sometimes it is very difficult to find volunteers and then I think: forget it, I'm quitting. At the same time I know that it takes time to change a 'mindset', and I always decide to go on again."
At present the Common Room has fifteen volunteers. "That may seem like many, yet there always has to be a volunteer present during the opening hours of the Common Room. We are open five or six days a week, which means you need a great many volunteers!" The 15 volunteers have to work very hard now and occasionally I really have to beg to ask if someone is prepared to do an extra shift. It would be so welcome if we were a slightly bigger group."
She does not come up with a ready answer when asked why she cares so much for the international students. "Although it is a passion that is shared by all volunteers, I couldn't really say what it is. When I arrived in Eindhoven myself, there was nothing, and I do know that I really missed that. You're from another country and you have to get to know new people. It is so nice then if there is a place that you can go to and share experiences. You get acquainted with international students who've been here for a while and they can show you the way. I also hope that I can create a bond this way and encourage new students to contribute their bit as well. Indre herself spends a great amount of time on the Common Room: 5 to sometimes 10 hours a week. Those hours include both paid ones and voluntary ones. "It may sound like a lot, but it isn't that bad really. Besides, for fewer hours we are also very grateful. Suppose you plan one hour every day as a volunteer to answer questions from new students on Facebook, that would be fantastic already!" (HB)
Become a volunteer? Contact Indre via: firstname.lastname@example.org