Who Are We?
The Service Volontaire International (SVI) is a Belgian-French-Vietnamese pluralist, apolitical, non-profit organisation with no religious affiliation which was founded by the volunteers and for the volunteers.
The SVI is a Youth Organisation made for young adults and officially recognised by the Belgian Ministry of Youth Affairs. It is a non-profit association founded in 2009 by former volunteers and contributors. It is an independent branch of the Vietnamese NGO SJ Vietnam, founded in 2004 in Hanoi with the support of volunteers from the UN and the Belgian Cooperation which Pierre de Hanscutter (cofounder of SJ Vietnam and founder of the SVI) used to work for.
Originally based in Tournai, Belgium, the SVI gave birth to a French branch, set up by former volunteers. Although the association is active pretty much everywhere in France, its head office is located in Lille.
In a few years, the SVI grew from about a hundred members to several thousand.
This quick growth enabled it to develop and diversify its activities, focusing more specifically on the preparation and integration of new members, and on actions against lobbying that aim to advocate for a strictly non-commercial volunteering.
Each year, nearly a thousand young volunteers leave their country and take part in solidarity projects set up by local non-profit associations. On the other hand, each year, the SVI welcomes a hundred young volunteers from all around the world and places them on associative projects in both Belgium and France.
In 2018, the SVI’s Canadian branch was born in Montreal.
It was decided in February 2020, during the association’s general meeting, to offer our members new accessible-to-all language activities in order to facilitate youth mobility and the appeal of MULICULTURALISM.
Through our local and international language activities, we want to make language learning accessible to all young people. But it is not the finality of our mission. In fact, it is just a first step!
For us, learning a language is not an end in itself, but a non-formal educational means that leads people to meet and understand each other through their culture and language.
We strive to help our members become more than just multilingual, we strive to help them become citizens of the New World!
As this civic learning process needs to remain accessible to all, we attach great importance to the fact that our activities are financially accessible to all.
In a nutshell, our activities are much more than mere “language trips” like those offered by some very lucrative language schools. They are the start of tomorrow. On the paths of the World. The New World.
Besides its international voluntary projects in over 70 countries, the SVI offers alternative language learning activities via local and international programmes.
Through these language activities, we invite you to practise new foreign languages, among which some can be quite unusual (have you ever considered learning Arabic or Vietnamese?), but also to discover the cultures attached to them!
Here are some examples:
Monthly activities organised in Brussels, Lille, and Paris. These “Papotes” (as we like to call them, here at the SVI) are free discussion sessions, hosted by an expat, where people talk about a specific subject, in a specific language.
One-to-one online language classes given by qualified and seasoned teachers living in different parts of the globe. They will share with you their passion for languages and travel.
Hop on board and go study in a language school abroad for two weeks, a month, or even longer! But be careful: our schools are sometimes located in very exotic countries! Hope you won’t mind…
Along with other travellers and local people, get ready for an extraordinary trip that combines discoveries, meetings, cultures, and languages.
Here’s to all the language teachers and students who want to experience something different from just a “mere” sightseeing trip. The SVI offers them to work together on another kind of trip that combines meetings, discovery of a region via local associations, and language practice.
Going on a voluntary mission abroad? Get ready for it with us! We’ll help you feel a bit more comfortable if you haven’t spoken English, Spanish, German, etc. for a long time.
We are not a commercial language travel agency, but a true non-profit association. We are open to everyone. All our activities are accessible to our members either for free or for a small fee.
In order to set up these language and volunteering projects in over 70 countries, the SVI cooperates with more than 320 non-profit organisations in Europe and worldwide as equals.
For all our projects, we exclusively collaborate with non-profit associations that share our values.
For our language stays, we primarily work with local associations. Taking part in a language stay organised by one of our associative partners is a great opportunity for a student to follow cheap and qualitative classes, discover the country through the associative world and support a local association.
When we work with local language companies, we make sure this cooperation is fair for each party. We also ensure that the company’s business practices are in accordance with our values.
We also collaborate with several independant consultants whom we consider as our colleagues.
These partnerships are frequently reassessed based on regular contacts between our coordinators and our local partners, but also based on the feedback we receive from our members after their project.
Who is behind the SVI’s team?
A team of wonderful permanent workers who have spent the last years putting all their energy into international volunteering. Never running out of ideas, they always come up with new activities to start like our new language projects.
It is also a young and lively team that lives thanks to the many volunteers and interns who come and make their contribution for a few weeks, months or years!
It is a team of committed adventurers! Many of us love travelling and getting involved in voluntary projects across the world.
You never get bored with us and who knows… maybe that’s what will make you join us! We are frequenly looking for new volunteers and interns!
Our team is mainly made of professionals and volunteers. All of them are passionate about discovering new cultures, travelling, languages and volunteering.
Currently, our team includes 9 employees of 4 different nationalities, about 20 volunteers (French “service civique”, Belgian “service citoyen”, European Solidarity Corps) and many interns in very diverse fields that range from IT to communication and translation!
Our offices are located in Lille, Paris, Brussels (international secretariat), Tournai, Perpignan, Louvain-La-Neuve, Genval, Voronezh, Hanoi, …
If you too want to take part in the development of the association and share your experience with future volunteers, don’t hesitate to contact us!
In 2016, Belgian Ministry for Youth Isabelle Simonis officially recognised the SVI as a “Youth Organisation”. This acknowledgment is the result of a long several-year hard work that aimed to turn a “small” volunteer-run association into an organisation that accompanies over 1000 volunteers each year and employs 9 people. Click here if you want to know more about our recognition as a Youth Organisation.
France SVI and Belgium SVI are both certified as coordinating, sending and welcoming associations by the European Commission within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.
France SVI is also certified within the framework of the French “Service Civique” (civic service).
In 2011, the SVI was congratulated by the city of Brussels for the quality of its civic and voluntary commitment.