Freelance contributors

Francesco VOLPINI

Francesco Volpini is an Italian national, though only moderately proud about it. In the last 16 years, he has been working and living in Paris, Bangkok, Tokyo and Seoul, coordinating national and global education, research and development programs focusing on international voluntary service and non-formal education. In his different assignments, he has conducted programs in over 40 different countries on all continents, cooperating with and supporting local and international non-governmental organizations, universities and institutions.

Despite a disproportionate optimism in administrating financial resources, as Director and then a consultant for the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS at UNESCO) he has launched and implemented a number of innovative, multi-stakeholders global and almost rigorous researches on the impact of international voluntary service and non-formal education on volunteers, communities and organisations.
Having studied Cultural Anthropology and Comparative Literatures at La Sapienza in Rome, with a focus on questions of cultural identity and diversity, he holds a research Masters in Socio-Anthropology of Development from La Sorbonne University, Paris, with a thesis on the Gross National Happiness policy in Bhutan – the closest someone can get to a completely useless but extremely interesting degree. In a moment of intellectual euphoria, he has also served as Foreign Expert at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resource of Mahidol University, Thailand, contributing in particular to the analysis and restructuring of the curriculum for the International Masters in Industrial Ecology.

As Graduate Research Associate at the EU Centre and PhD student at the School of Social Work of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he has been teaching in the crosscampus flagship Diversity course, for which he was included in the List of teachers rated as excellent by their students’ in Spring 2018, and is today a PhD candidate at the School of International Studies of Ryukoku University in Kyoto. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods Francesco is currently looking at the ways the acquisition of social and cultural competences through international volunteerism contributes to decreasing social interaction anxiety and intergroup uncertainty and increasing subjective well-being across cultural norms – with the vertiginous hypothesis that by living and working in multicultural contexts and on projects of common interest, people can actually learn to live and be happier, together.

Donna Mae Ocmeja

Donna, from the Philippines, is an experienced communication professional with a demonstrated history of working in the Media and Development sectors. Major fields of interest include Marketing, Journalism, Public Relations, Agriculture, Social Work, Arts & Culture, and Community Development. Donna has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and a Master’s Degree in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines. Since 2016, she has been involved in various development works with local and international NGOs both as an employee and a volunteer. Donna is a startup owner who founded Painitan sa Baybay, an eco-friendly, local food and beverage business in a province in the Philippines that aims to promote and preserve traditional Filipino snacking culture.

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Davis, American political activist & academicl