‘I definitely learnt much more than just English’

Roger Zancheta



It’s not every day that VCES receives an email from Brazil!

So, on a wintry morning in Eastbourne just prior to Christmas we were happy to receive an email from Roger Zancheta, a Brazilian national who explained that he was coming to Eastbourne early in the New Year and would like to do some volunteering.

Roger’s email actually arrived via Hastings, in that he had done his research and contacted one of VCES’ delivery partners in Hastings Voluntary Action, who referred his request on to myself.

In his initial email Roger explained that he was an English teacher in Brazil with experience in sales and hospitality and he wanted to help the community and ideally, would like a volunteer role involving spoken communication as he wanted to practice and improve his English.

All fine so far, but the real challenge came as Roger indicated his availability would be between the 22nd and 26th of January!  Clearly, we did not have much time to try and assist with setting something up. However, we like a challenge at VCES, and I immediately set about trying to broker something suitable. We did consider engaging Roger directly within the Volunteer centre and I suggested that it might be possible for Roger to accompany me to several meetings I had on that week.

I was concerned though that this might not be the most meaningful and satisfactory involvement for Roger and reading through is C.V. I sensed that his preference might be for something more creative. VCES has been working with individuals interested in volunteering and groups engaging them, for the past eight years and obviously there are real advantages to this in that we have developed sustained relationships with people working to engage volunteers throughout East Sussex.

I was able therefore, to contact a number of groups in Eastbourne and explain what Roger wanted to do and the timeframe involved and to emphasise that VCES was happy to liaise closely with both Roger and any potential organisations who were interested in bringing this about.

I was delighted to find that there was interest in engaging Roger as a volunteer and after a series of emails between Roger and myself and Fenya Sharkey who is the Project Director at Compass Community Arts we were able to agree that Roger would spend his time volunteering in Eastbourne with them.

I wasn’t sure quite what was possible in the short time Roger would be available and when it arrived the feedback was clearly positive. Within days I received emails from both Roger;

‘I would like to share with you my experience volunteering with Fenya from Compass Community Arts.

I helped her over three days, and it was an amazing experience. I have to praise her for her noble work she provides. I came to her for an English learning experience, but I learnt much more than just English. I could learn how beautiful the world is with people like her around. Giving meaning to people’s lives through Art, in such an altruist way, made me so happy and pleased to be part of it, even if it was for a short time. Our job on Monday, at Shinewater, was so moving, and a wake-up call to how silly we are when we just give importance to possession and not to life itself. Thank you for recommending a job allowing me to be part of this amazing fruitful experience’.

and from Fenya;

‘I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for recommending Compass Community Arts as an organisation that Roger could volunteer at for a few days while on holiday.  It was a great success.  Our participants were thrilled to meet and talk to someone from Brazil and on the last day he brought his wife and daughter to the project too.  It is great when we can bring different communities together and I was really pleased that Roger contacted us.

Look forward to seeing you soon and/or who you send our way next!’

Lee Shepherd

Volunteering Development Coordinator, Feb 2018