"I have truly enjoyed my time at MEDASSET. All the staff were really friendly, helpful and a great example of how a team functions well. I have learned a lot from my assigned project, had the privilege to apply my own skills to it, and it has opened my eyes to points I had not considered before regarding the facilities available for sea turtle conservation in the Mediterranean. It has been a great experience and joy to be part of an upcoming initiative that will benefit sea turtle conservation in this area, and this will definitely prove beneficial for my future career. I highly recommend investing your time to volunteer with MEDASSET, learn new skills, meet new friends and assist a very hard working and determined NGO such as this!"
Sherif is a young pharmacist, interested in human rights, animal and marine conservation. As a volunteer for MEDASSET, Sherif observed and documented the illegal trade of sea turtles in fish markets in his hometown, Alexandria, Egypt, between September 2014 and March 2015. The information he collected was delivered by MEDASSET to the Egyptian Ministry of Environment, which took action to halt the trade. Read more here.... How did you hear about MEDASSET? From Mohamed Nada, MEDASSET’s representative in Egypt. Why did you choose to offer your time to protect sea turtles in Egypt? Because, since childhood I have adored the sea and its creatures. I'm against animal abuse in any form. In general I believe it is essential to protect the weakest elements of society, whether that means humans or animals, and to be the voice of those who don't have one. What did you gain at a personal and professional level through your volunteer assignment? On the professional level I was able to publish a poster with the help of my awesome colleagues Liza and Mo, while on the personal one the experience came at a critical point in my life and gave me inner guidance as to what to do next. What was the greatest challenge and what was the most interesting or rewarding experience during your volunteer assignment? Every single moment was a challenge and new experience. Coming into contact with fishmongers and fishermen for the first time and interviewing them after I had finished my night shifts in the hospital, participating in writing a paper for the first time and dealing with the international sea turtle society were all challenging experiences. The most rewarding thing was proving to myself that I can make a contribution to marine conservation in my home town even though this is an understudied field in Egypt and despite the fact that this was a particularly difficult period in my life. You presented your volunteer work at the International Sea Turtle Symposium, was it the first time you had participated in a scientific conference and what was the experience like? Yes, a new awesome experience. Following your volunteer experience, why do you think that it is important to protect sea turtles and what is the greatest threat to the species in your opinion? The greatest threat is the ignorance in human society concerning how vital healthy ecosystems are. How can people help? That is a hard question but we mustn't give up trying to eradicate the consumption of sea turtles. It can’t be done by one person or one group alone… it needs everyone to work together… the government, NGOs and the local communities. What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a MEDASSET volunteer? Go for that awesome experience, it is a trustworthy NGO. The team will always be available to support you so you can develop… on both the personal and the professional level.
“Never before had I felt time passing me by as fast as during my six weeks of volunteering at the MEDASSET office, in Athens. Looking back, I see a period full of exciting tasks, challenges, new horizons, great new colleagues and friends. All I had hoped to gain from my volunteering experience before arriving in Athens was a summer spent in a meaningful way, along with a little Greek language practice. I’ve ended up with so much more! I was given the opportunity to help some amazing people do something good, and test myself in a working environment completely different from the one I’m used to at home. I was gently pushed and encouraged to overcome some professional inhibitions and was given a chance to see the most amazing places ever- for all of which I am grateful beyond words. The MEDASSET team will make you feel welcome and useful, will respect and appreciate your time and will be flexible when it comes to your time management. They will provide you with help when you need it, and you will feel like a part of a great team. I’ve learned tons of new things and skills, made great new friends and I think I can say without exaggeration that my experience with MEDASSET was a true life changer.”
Hi my name is Jennie I have been working with MEDASSET since 2012, helping out with the great work they do in promoting sea turtle conservation! I started off working as an intern at MEDASSET’s head office in Athens where I was inspired to continue working in the area of marine conservation. My experiences with MEDASSET actually allowed me to write my undergraduate thesis on methods to reliably age and sex green turtles whilst at the University of Exeter, UK. Now I am in Australia doing my PhD at the University of Sunshine Coast looking into sustainable aquaculture management. So I am I very much looking forward to admiring all of your sea-turtle monuments! And I encourage all of you to get as involved with MEDASSET as you can; it is a fantastic charity that really makes a difference to all of those turtle species that desperately need our help! And you never know where your experiences with MEDASSET might take you!
After nearly 20 years working as a teacher in schools in Catalonia and Ireland, I felt it was time for a change. Searching the Internet, I got in touch with MEDASSET, an NGO working on a totally different topic from what I had been focusing on so far. Sea turtles and the environment was a whole new world for me. First thing I did when contacting MEDASSET was to explain my lack of experience on the topic and limited knowledge. This was not a problem, they assured me. Maybe it was time for me to learn something new…I landed in Athens in early July, willing to devote three weeks to learn and help out. At the end of the day, this was my mission to help. My task was to research the historical knowledge, mythology and describe the relationship between humans and sea turtles over time in different regions of the world. Given my experience in teaching history I considered this to be a very appropriate task. I was provided with all necessary resources. I had a lot of information that I needed to categorize, compile, and synthesize into a structured document. The first 2-3 days it was all about reading. Once this was finished, I started researching about myths and legends on sea turtles from prehistoric times to today worldwide. Actually these three weeks have been very worthwhile and entertaining. I now know all about sea turtles, their lives, habits, behaviors, legends and myths, how they are of benefit to the marine ecosystem but also their troubles and why they need to be protected. My experience with MEDASSET and sea turtles helped me understand that all, absolutely all, living beings share a common place during our short lives and that this place should be preserved and respected by all, especially humans. Mutual respect and balance is key to living in harmony with everything that surrounds us, including animals, vegetables and so on. And believe me, my friends, there is a lot around us that we need to take care of because it is precious, and is the legacy we leave to future generations.
“Volunteering at MEDASSET was a great way for me to live a little more inside the daily Greek culture and to understand better how is it to work at a NGO, as I had always worked at big companies before. Everybody was very nice and kind to me! No doubts it was a good choice about how to spend a little bit of my time in Athens!”
"The volunteer programme which MEDASSET offers is informative, flexible and allows you to really discover Athens whilst contributing to something significant. While MEDASSET largely focuses on sea turtle conservation there is a large amount of emphasis on environmental education which I enjoyed significantly. Throughout my time here, my knowledge of the environment and Caretta caretta increased dramatically. I was able to contribute with general tasks as well as putting my Photoshop skills to work by helping create children’s awareness activities! One of which even got printed in time for a public awareness day! Lily and the MEDASSET team are so warm and absolutely beautiful. It was a joy to work with everyone and if you do have an interest in the environment and conservation, I sincerely recommend volunteering with MEDASSET!"
"Hello I’m Emma and I volunteered for MEDASSET in November and December 2013. At the time I just graduated from a master degree in International Conflicts at Kingston University and wanted to have an experience that could help me widen my horizons. This experience at MEDASSET has allowed me to uncover the issues sea turtles are exposed to and to increase my interest in marine conservation. During my volunteering time at MEDASSET I had the chance to see the realization of the project to which I have been actively collaborating under MEDASSET. In particular I have been working on the creation of the “Wiki Loves Sea Turtle Monuments” page on Wikipedia and on the related category on Wikimedia Commons. This project has acquired a great importance for me and I believe it represent a unique opportunity to celebrate the importance of sea turtles in our society. I am currently involved in the project especially in the maintenance of the Wiki page and on the promotion of this initiative. Help us then make this a worldwide initiative, grab your camera and dive in with MEDASSET!"
"My time at MEDASSET was essential to my success in Greece – from the team becoming my second family to pushing my skills to new limits. Moving to Athens was a big change for me and the team at MEDASSET helped me to navigate my new life in the city while providing me with the opportunity to use my skills and make a contribution to such a beautiful environment. In addition to being spirited and dynamic, the MEDASSET team is not one to shy away from a challenge –and they’re happy to take you along for the ride. It is a rare organization that really lets you use your skills and voice your opinions. You will not be a paper-pusher in this office (although they can find you plenty of little tasks for when your brain needs a break, too)! Over the past 10 years I've been volunteering for various NGOs and I know that time management of volunteers is a common challenge that organizations face. Nobody likes feeling like their time is wasted or disrespected and MEDASSET knows this. They work very hard to make sure that volunteers are treated with respect, dignity, and gratitude. They are accommodating when you find yourself discontent with a project or struggling with a new skill. In a true European fashion, they also appreciate independence and life-work balance – something that is important when you’re in a new city and want to explore the landscape and culture. Most importantly, they are serious about developing the spirit of volunteerism in Greece and beyond and they appreciate all levels of contribution from volunteers. Having lived in Greece for one year, I know that MEDASSET is a unique organization and a very special workplace. If you have any skill or even just motivation, MEDASSET will take you in and work with you to change our world."
"Volunteering for MEDASSET has been a unique experience and a "fulfilling one at that. Not only did I contribute to a worthy cause, I befriended a compassionate staff, dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity in the Mediterranean. It is rare to find a group so hardworking and so enthusiastic about their mission. The office is constantly in the midst of environmental research, benefit plans and awareness programs, all of which spread the simple but dire truth that the plight of marine turtles is devastating and they need our help. No doubt the staff is busy; they bustle back and forth with letters, emails, phone calls and stop only briefly to sip from a frothy Nescafe frappe. But as a volunteer, I never felt neglected as they always found a way, even in the slightest, for me to do some good. So while MEDASSET may be a small NGO, it is not without a mighty heart and in the end, that's what environmental preservation comes down it--the ability to care, nurture and share out planet. Ergo, I say this with all sincerity, I am honored to have been a part of their team. As for working in Athens, the Mecca forever anchored in history by sights like the Acropolis, I am forever wreathed into the city's fervent heartbeat. The landscape, the people and the lifestyle have so much vitality that it is no wonder this place between mountains is considered a cradle for civilization. Thus, to MEDASSET and Athens, I bid a temporary farewell. You have given new meaning to phrase 'live, love, laugh' and someday, I will have to return..."
"Volunteering at MEDASSET in the Athens office was a great experience. A few times a week I came into the office to do different things such as doing background research for a campaign to collecting pictures for awareness raising projects. One time I visited the turtle center to actually see the turtles that MEDASSET works so hard to protect. While seeing what those turtles had gone through was a little sad, at the same time it fueled me to keep volunteering for MEDASSET and it showed me how important all the work done at the office is. Not only was I giving my time for a good cause, but MEDASSET allowed me to gain important work experience in a comfortable setting. At the office it was never a dull day as the staff always created a warm, welcoming and fun atmosphere. Thank you MEDASSET for this great opportunity!"
"Volunteering at MEDASSET was a completely inspiring experience. This is more than just a turtle rescue organization, it is a change agent for the country of Greece, a pioneer in the area of conservation in a country that is just beginning to be educated about the importance of perserving the environment and all of its many wonderful creatures. The staff at MEDASSET are passionate, intelligent and dedicated to their cause. When you join this team, you become a part of a community of people who truly care about each other and about their responsibility to help save the sea turtles. They helped me to use my skills in research, writing and marketing to support their efforts and made me feel included and needed right from the start. I had the greatest opportunity to have many conversations with MEDASSET Founder, Lily Venizelos, who is a pillar of strength and a woman of incredible vision. She has been protecting sea turtles for almost as long as I've been alive, and I have the utmost respect for her determination to keep fighting, despite human and governmental obstacles. She is a woman to be admired. But it wasn't just the people, everything was more than I expected, the lovely little room to lay my head in, the location within walking distance to the greatest sites in Athens and, did I mention, the people were great?! All in all, I would recommend to anyone to volunteer with MEDASSET, you will come out with a greater appreciation for our environment and for the people who work so tirelessly to protect it."
"I was glad to be able to give some time and energy to support MEDASSET's cause. MEDASSET's project goes further than just saving sea turtles, but more generally tries to raise awareness on environmental issues among the Greek society, as well as around the Mediterranean and even on the international level! I managed to participate to the construction of the new web site, to learn a lot about the protection of endangered species and even to use some of my legal knowledge! Moreover the team is really nice and gave me the opportunity and time to discover Greece differently!"
"I had never worked out of my home country before so this gave me a unique insight into an international operation for a really worthwhile cause. Everyone made me feel really welcome and I enjoyed working on projects that I had a strong interest in. I never realised just how much work went into the conservation of turtles and now, I can clearly see what a fragile species they are. I felt as though I had made a significant contribution to the on-going work of some very dedicated individuals. This experience was hugely influenced by staying in the city of Athens and my experience was made only more valuable by being able to explore this rich cultural city."
The impetus for my Greek holiday/ volunteering adventure with MEDASSET came about in a roundabout way! My daughter was a sophomore in college. I’ve always encouraged her to study abroad and was most pleasantly surprised when she chose Greece! Neither of us had ever been to Greece. Ironically, my undergraduate degree was in Ancient Roman and Grecian history and I’ve always had the desire to visit. Now I had the perfect opportunity. My plan was to spend two-weeks touring through Europe with her during her two-week break from studies, then separate and head to Athens to begin work. I was so excited to have been offered this opportunity in Athens! In Greece! With MEDASSET! Saving turtles! I felt beyond fortunate to be able to nurture my innermost desire to explore and grow through exploring with my daughter, and individually with MEDASSET. However, even the best laid plans can have kinks. My daughter’s version of a vacation and mine were quite different and two-weeks ended up being a tad too long! By the time I arrived in Athens, I was exhausted, sick, and had accidentally lost my hearing due to the hustling of the trip and multiple flights! I was embarrassedand felt sorry for the staff at MEDASSET. So my grand volunteering position began poorly - with feeling horribly ill, half-deaf, and with a desire to crawl under the covers and not come out! It took a while to recover, which I slowly did, with thanks to much help from sweet, sweet Konstantina, the Volunteer Programme Coordinator! Located in one of the most beautiful areas of Athens, MEDASSET has a fabulous office space right in the heart of the action. I welcomed every chance to be ‘on the streets’ in Athens. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all were so new and exciting. Everyone dressed so sophisticated, so European. I loved it! Friends and strangers alike would often stop and chat with me, wanting to know where I was from and why I was in Athens. The Greeks and Europeans overall, truly value personal relationships and always have time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. MEDASSET is well-known and well-respected, as is its founder, Mrs. Lily Venizelos. I was honored to be associated with them. Aside from completing important office duties, volunteers get to participate with locally held events. One day we went to an elementary school where we taught the children safe environmental practices and the importance of turtle conservation. We viewed an informational video, read books, and had a question and answer session. This was enjoyed by all. Our next part of the presentation was to have each child color a fish. They were all so colorful and creative, such treasures! But the day did not end without the children meeting Niretta, our mascot.And I had volunteered to wear the large turtle suit!! The children loved it! Another memorable event was when the staff prepared an outdoor display with colorful netting strung between the light posts along a tram car stop. We had a steady line of visitors of all ages who intently listened as we educated them on the importance of sustainable fisheries. Tables were set up for our guest to “Paint a Fish”, which were then placed in the nets. This powerful campaign has been a success in bringing awareness to our needs. I am quite a “people” person and love to interact and learn from everyone, especially with those from other cultures. I guess it’s the Sociologist in me, inherited from my Dad! Personally, it was the office staff and other volunteers that moved my heart so. A longtime friend of MEDASSET, I met Margarite on the one day that she chose to volunteer. We were immediate friends. She invited me to spend a day touring Attika with her the next weekend. I was so excited and honored. Her genuine love for her country- Greece, was shown with such pride. She sang native songs, gifted me with a poetry book she had written, and went to great efforts to really “show” me the side of Greece most tourist do not get to see. She is my kindred sister. Another Greek volunteer, Elisabeth, graciously shared her culture with me a local restaurant where she ordered up a smorgasbord of Greek delicacies “that I had to try!” As with the sampling of food and wine, she was delighted as she watched how wholeheartedly I enjoyed the experience. She was a strong and dynamic woman that I was fortunate to encounter during my travels. We have remained friends. An American Yale University intern, Stephanie, joined the team towards the end of my month-long stay. Young and eager to maximize her immersion in the Greek culture, she spent time planning visits to other areas of Greece during her free time. Her Yale group had planned a trip to Delphi, which I had not yet visited. I was so happy when she invited me to join them. Being open to learn is a key factor most needed when you opt to pursue volunteering abroad. I could go on forever about each of the wonderful ladies in the office that bring so much to MEDASSET. In conclusion, we will meet again in Greece, I have no doubt! The 34th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation will be held April 9-19, 2014, in my former hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. I look forward to joining Mrs. Lily and the team during the convention. I can only hope to share the same kindness and graciousness shown me in Athens to them while in New Orleans. I am honored to be a part of the solution that continues to make a difference for the lives of sea turtles!
"I really felt like volunteering for some good cause. MEDASSET was perfect, it allowed me the freedom to develop my own personal strengths as well as saving my budget by reciprocating a place for me to stay. My expectations were far exceeded. I really felt that I contributed something to the organization."
"If you had to ask me if I had any regrets about volunteering for MEDASSET, my answer would surely be No! Working at MEDASSET was such a wonderful, fulfilling and rewarding experience. I had been volunteering for some time in my country and suddenly I realised that it is not enough. I wanted to undergo a new challenging voluntary experience in a different country. I chose Greece because I was in love with the country and always wished to return back to this land."
"I found the advertisement to contribute as a volunteer with the MEDASSET Program while living and working in the UK. I was instantly attracted to the opportunity to contribute to a very worthy cause. The sheer passion and vitality of the team is truly inspiring and I understand the challenges facing a non-government environmental organisation in Greece. I have the greatest respect for those truly trying to make a difference through this organisation. My own interest in conservation, animal welfare and the environment was fuelled during the time I spent with MEDASSET, and I urge anyone with an interest in such areas consider assisting in any way possible, whether through financial donations or offering their expertise. I was also granted the opportunity to live in Athens and experience the history and culture of Greece - an absolutely amazing experience indeed! I wish you all the very best for the future and thank-you!"
"Walking through the cobbled streets of Kolonaki on numerous errands I really got to experience life in the bustling city of Athens. Not only did I get to put my skills to a good cause, the team at MEDASSET were very friendly and took me under their wing. I learnt even more about sea turtles and became more familiar with environmental based european organisations. It was also a great opportunity to experience work in a small organisation which greatly differed to my current profession working for a large government department. I was even lucky enough to attend a fundraising function - a performance by Marinella and Remos."
"My summer working in environmental policy with the MEDASSET team was an important formative experience for my academic and career interests. As a biology major that was neither interested in medical school nor in biological research, I came to Greece very unsure of my future career path. At MEDASSET, I contributed to policy work around elevated sea turtle mortality in Bardawil Lake, Egypt, as well as an evaluation of potential coastal engineering projects in Cyprus.
These projects were so engaging that I began to contemplate instead working in public policy, particularly in a policy area where my biology background could be useful. After I returned to college in the U.S., I channeled my newfound interest by taking numerous health policy classes, assuming leadership roles in student organizations focused on public policy, and pursuing other health policy internships.
Today, I work at a global health nonprofit that tackles key policy challenges around HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and hepatitis C in countries around the world. I can credit MEDASSET for being the initial spark that put me on the path towards working in public policy.
Overall, I feel very lucky to have been offered the chance to engage in environmental policy and advocacy with the MEDASSET team and to have spent a wonderful summer living in Athens. Many thanks to the MEDASSET team for the phenomenal experience in Greece!"
Read more about Stephanie at Yale Scientific
"I wish I could rewind time and do it all over again! Upon exploring MEDASSET’s website, I realized that I agree with its ideals and practices. I like the idea that it is an NGO that offers a vast array of information about sea turtles that is easily accessible to educators and students...I have never met such an amazing, strong and powerful woman as Lily. She was an inspiration as to how each of us can make a difference if we just take the time to put in the energy and effort. Also, volunteering for MEDASSET offered me the opportunity to help with a worthwhile organization in a country that is breathtaking and rich in history."