Recently, I started volunteering at Braval, a non-profit organisation established in the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona about 16 years ago. Its mission is to integrate youth from immigrant communities, and to impart values consistent with respect, integrity, service and conscientiousness. This gives the youth a means to establish a solid educational foundation, which translates into future employment opportunities and assimilation into society.
Most of the activities at Braval are centered around study sessions and those which promote the educational progress of its trainees. There are however supplementary sports-related activities, such as football or basketball, which are organised to help ensure that trainees also develop the skills/values that one learns playing team sports.
I found out about this organisation through Professor Joan Jane, who is part of the Operations faculty at IESE. Upon visiting the organisation and getting an understanding of their main activities, I found myself a role as the assistant trainer on the 12 and under football team. Training is conducted once a week on Thursday evenings, with league games happening either during the week or on Saturdays.
As someone who is a relative beginner in Spanish, the biggest challenge for me is communication with the trainees. Thankfully, there is always a Spanish-speaking coordinator who is on location to monitor the activities, and more often than not, he helps play the role of translator as well.
On the whole, the support staff at Braval are fantastic, and they have really made me feel at home, even though I have only been volunteering for a few months. Although it seems that as a volunteer I would be the one having to give constantly, in terms of time and effort; on the contrary, I would say that I have received as much or even more than I have given. The experience has been very fulfilling for me, in allowing me to take a step outside of the IESE MBA community and to have a chance to interact with the local community.
If my experience has inspired you to give something back to the local community, please reach out to Professor Joan Jane, who will then link you up with the organisation. Volunteers will probably have to commit to an hour or two on a weekly basis. However having said that, this arrangement is relatively flexible, as there are usually sufficient volunteers to cover for each other.
Please also feel free to contact me if you have any questions pertaining to volunteering at Braval. I look forward to seeing some of you at Braval in the near future!