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Barbara GomesInterviewer:  Bárbara, tell us a bit about yourself.

Bárbara:  I’m Bárbara, I’m 24 years old, and right now I’m a European Solidarity Corps volunteer with Volunteer Now.  I’ve gone on this project for a year, after almost completing my Master’s in chemical engineering.  I just needed a break, and to have a feel for what other fields would be like.  And luckily, I found this opportunity and just jumped right in.

Interviewer:  And what are your other passions?

Bárbara:  My free time is pretty much all dedicated to photography.  Right now, I know that I want to photograph people and hear their stories, hear what motivates them and create art with them.

So I mostly (photo)shoot people or a concept that I really like and feel inspired to.  Other projects… I think, I want to feel useful in every topic.  So anything that I’m aware of, I would like to explore, such as environmental policies, or sustainability and branding, I learn and want to create and further explore.

Interviewer:  And when did you first volunteer with Volunteer Now?  How did it happen?

Bárbara:  So exploring the opportunities for Solidarity Corps programme: I knew that I wanted to do something related to either marketing or image content.  And that’s my first connection because I saw the opportunity to work for Volunteer Now, and I joined in September.  And since then, we’ve been doing little things, but always with the team.

Interviewer:  And what do you like about your placement?

Bárbara:  What I like most is the opportunity to work in different settings.  Because since then, I’ve done image content, but I’ve also worked with people, with the events team, I’ve met people outside our team – and that’s really nice: the opportunity to see how the people in Northern Ireland actually are.

Interviewer:  Are there any funny stories or interesting moments from your volunteering journey that you would like to share with us today?

Bárbara:  I think the most surprising moments are those that people actually want to hear about us.  Because we say “yes, I’m a volunteer” or say “Oh, I’m an international volunteer working here”, and they say, “oh, how exactly did you do that?”.  And other things… probably every time that I volunteer at the COVID-19 vaccination centre, I have a lady complimenting my hair.  At first, I didn’t even know how to react.  The lady just stopped.  And I was trying to explain how she had to stay for 15 minutes and so on, and she just turned to me.  I was like “I’m so sorry. I’m just looking at your hair”.  And I was like, okay… what do I do?  Now I am just waiting for it like: who’s gonna be in this shift?  Who will it be?  That’s really funny.  There are a lot of personalities like that.  People that ask if we can deliver coffee as well… There’s people asking about my accent – where am I from, because the accent is very interesting… So it’s just moments that you don’t really expect.

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