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Humanitarian Activities Through the Eyes of Professionals – at Vilnius University

The world is waiting for professional humanitarian aid that will create a safe environment for millions of people affected by the crisis. The ​​humanitarian activity is becoming an area where it is crucial not to do more harm than it has already been done. A few decades ago, it was thought that everyone could be a humanitarian worker, but now this is the most professional-minded activity based on an integrated approach to the relationship between science and practice. The interdisciplinary capacity of universities is becoming a hub for humanitarian workers.

As a member of the international university association NOHA (Network on Humanitarian Action), Vilnius University has organized “NOHA Spring School in Humanitarian Action” for the eighth time already, which took place on 13-17 May this year in cooperation with the Catholic University of Louvain. NOHA Spring School in Humanitarian Action is intended for civil servants, employees of international and non-governmental organizations, academics and anyone interested in this field. Lectures were conducted by NOHA university lecturers and the best humanitarian experts. The programme of the Spring School covered topics such as international humanitarian law, the application of Sphere humanitarian standards in various situations, psychological preparedness, mediation and negotiations in conflict, transparency in crisis situations, geopolitics in humanitarian activities, advocacy, humanitarian principles, gender-based violence, safety of humanitarian workers.

Participants, coming from different countries all around the world, such as Nigeria, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, USA, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, shared their impressions after the event: “Thank you so much for this wonderful experience. It was a very professionally organised course which gave me lots of information and most important new motivation to work in this field. I was happy to hear insights from professionals who have worked on the field and on these subjects for years and who shared with us a lot of their experiences and practical examples from their lives to back up their knowledge.” writes Linda from Latvia.

Tinzi from Belgium: “I’m writing to you while filled with happy and enthusiastic emotions! I can confidently say the NOHA Spring School in Vilnius was one of the best courses I have ever participated in. The week was incredible, not only because of the interesting lectures but also because of the great organization and cool participants. I really liked that time was taken to have a ceremony for handing out the certificates, it made me feel accomplished and proud and was a great way to close the week.  I really appreciated the balance in the programme and the mix of theory and practical as well as the variety of lecturers. Also, the lecturers were all very charismatic and approachable and I would like to keep in contact with a few to ask for career advice. The whole group dynamic really added to the enjoyable experience, each participant had a very different background but it was a great feeling knowing we were all there with the same purpose, with the same aspirations. All in all I am not exaggerating when I say that the course exceeded my expectations and broadened my horizon on HA. I would like to add how grateful I am that I was able to take part in the course! It was a very memorable experience and I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity! ”

Gintare from Lithuania shared her view that ” NOHA Spring School is absolutely necessary for those who are thinking about humanitarian action. The speakers were so professional and share so many valuable ideas. This was my first time participating in NOHA events, but definitely not the last one. A week long courses gave me the opportunity to meet people form all over the world, to realize that we share the same values, to see how much we can do together, to gain knowledge about various important topics. During one week you have the time to discuss about the most resent humanitarian events, but at the same time, to learn all the basics from the mentors.

The opportunity to participate in NOHA Spring School gives you the chance to work with other participants who have several years of experience in the field, as well as, with the speakers who are the mentors and HA workers themselves. My personal opinion is that NOHA network activities are a great chance to start your first steps in HA. Highly recommended!”

Mariana from Portugal said that “making the world a better place really seems a bit more possible after meeting you all”.

Humanitarian action is waiting for professionals who are able to look at the worldwide crisis with needed competence. The global needs of humanitarian action require the continued readiness of states and civil society to provide assistance to societies in humanitarian crises, to take action for strengthening the resilience of vulnerable societies, and to develop research for making such activities more effective. Vilnius University contributes to increasing the efficiency of humanitarian action by providing quality education, research and training.