Undertake a civilian service with Surfrider Europe

24/03/20

Inside #8 Filippa is undertaking her civilian service within Surfrider Europe’s Ocean initiatives department. This civic commitment allows her to act concretely in favor of the environmental protection, especially about aquatic trash. She shared with us her adventure.

Tell us about yourself

I am 24 years old, I am from Le Mans and I am undertaking a civilian service at Surfrider Europe for almost a year within the Ocean Initiatives department. After one year of german language at University, I joined a business school for 3 years and then started a masters degree course for geography and environment. The civilian service peaked my interest while I was studying for my masters degree.

How did you end up at Surfrider Europe and why did you decide to enter an environmental NGO ?

I wanted to enter an environmental nonprofit and especially this one because Surfrider Europe was in line with my values and today's context. I already worked in a humanitarian nonprofit and I really enjoyed the ambiance and the social aspect of it.

I picked Surfrider Europe as the trash trash subject is broadly approached there. I was already following a zero waste lifestyle. Then, getting a project within the Ocean Initiatives, the program which organizes the trash pick up on the beach, seems the right opportunity to me.

What are your projects within the Ocean Initiative department? 

I was hired to lead satisfaction surveys, which means calling people who are participating in the Ocean Initiatives, creating a questionnaire and being the link with the volunteers. I also helped to sequence the emailing; define a strategy to decide which email to send, when, saying what and to who. I also helped with the writing of the 2018 OI environmental assessment

The advantage of the civilian service is that you first start with a well defined project and in the course of time, if you want to, you can evolve, progress and discover other thematics. 

What is your perspective on NGO, projects and civilian service?

At first, I thought that picking up trash on the beach for 6 months will be enough to solve the issue. Thanks to the civilian service, I am now more aware of scientific challenges. I understand that 70% of trash is drowning at the bottom of the ocean and that the pick up is only 15% of all trash.

This adventure allows me to meet knowledgeable individuals. This was not always the case, I was often considered as the annoying one in my closed circle (she smiled) talking about some subjects. I discovered a healthy work environment, which is more focused on the individual than profits. We are not selling products but values, and I am not talking in a monetary way. 

I was satisfied that what I did was tangible and implemented. For example, one of the outcomes of my satisfaction survey was that the organizational guide was not often read. We came up with the idea to transform the guide into a video and this was implemented this year.

A message to be conveyed (to anyone who would like to do a civilian service but does not feel brave enough)

Everyone should do a civilian service and especially within an NGO to discover a different work environment compared to businesses. It is a great adventure, and worst case scenario if you do not enjoy it, it is only for a short time and it would be an additional experience to add to your curriculum. 

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