Vilnius University (LITHUANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 11568-11577
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.2422
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
The role of mentor in the long term Youth Voluntary Service (YVS) will be discussed in the paper. The long term YVS program had two important elements in order to secure the quality of the experience and to assure learning from the experience to happen. The first element was that young people participating in the YVS program were supervised by two adults: a curator who accompanied the volunteer at the host organization and a mentor appointed by the other organization. And the second is Digital Badges System (DBS) which was a tool used to gather evidence of the development and important achievements that young people make during volunteering and to see the progress of their development.

The paper is based on the results of the qualitative research, semi structured interviews with 15 ex-participants of YVS. All participants finished YVS in 2019 or 2020 and during research were studying at institutions of higher education. The research was conducted in November-December 2020. Due to the quarantine all interviews were held on the Zoom platform. This research was funded by Youth Department at Ministry of Social Security and Labour.

Based on the descriptions of the relationships of former YVS participants with their mentors and curators, the roles of mentors and curators they performed for volunteers during YVS were reconstructed. One role was assigned to one person, so the mentors and curators can be grouped according to their roles they had to volunteers. Curators performed the following roles: significant adult; friend and equal partner; the organizer of the volunteer group activities, and the formal leader. Mentors performed the following roles: significant adult; friend; an old acquaintance; formal - "through outstretched hand". Volunteers were most influenced by mentors and curators in the roles of significant adult and least in the roles of formal leader.

Some volunteers were sincerely involved in collecting digital badges, and the DBS motivated them, while others collected digital badges only because they were mandatory, and the DBS did not motivate them. Data analysis showed that the relationships with the mentor and curator were crucial both for the functioning of the DBS and for the YVS experience to be considered a significant, life-changing experience. When the mentor and mentor, or one of them, were perceived as significant adults, they became authoritative adults that the volunteers trusted and opened up for a sincere relationship.

These volunteers:
(1) were sincerely involved in the collection of digital badges, and
(2) found the overall YVS experience to be highly significant and valuable. When volunteers got to know their mentors and / or educators before YVS, maintained close and friendly relationships with them, DBS was not motivating.

These volunteers:
(1) accepted the collection of digital badges as additional, mandatory work, and
(2) the YVS experience was important for them, but not life changing. When the relationships with the curators and mentors were perceived as formal, they were not motivating.

For these volunteers:
(1) the DBS did not work, and
(2) they spoke with restraint about the overall YVS experience as not providing anything useful or sustainable.
youth voluntary service, digital badges, volunteer, youth, mentoring.