The WSCF Europe Office & its Staff
Sofie BONDE ERIKSEN
Landberger Allee S-bahn Station is not a particularly interesting place. When you get off the S Bahn you can easily feel that you might be in the outskirts of Berlin, though the place is quite central and is situated in the area of Prenzlauer Berg. There are some hotels, a Generator Hostel, a number of office buildings and a couple of bars. On sunny days with blue sky it has its charm.
You walk up from the station past a couple of small bakeries and turn left, walk one block and then you are at Storkower Straße 158 where WSCF Europe has had its office since late 2011. By now, it is almost two years since Katka Babicova and Jill Piebiak (the previous Secretary and Office Intern) took their epic trip with a large white van to transport WSCF from Hungary to Germany, completing the move of the office from Budapest to Berlin.
The building feels very clean and a bit empty. It has seven floors and can host what seems to be an indefinite number of offices. The rumbly elevator takes you up to the 7th floor and let you out exactly in front of the WSCF Europe Office in number 710. Compared to the rest of the building, it is less clean and much less empty: full of books and papers from past and present.
Two smiling faces will greet you and get up from their tables with teacups, computers and papers, excited to be interrupted and to welcome visitors. Even though emails, Skype meetings and fundraising applications can be breathtaking, real people are still more interesting. You can have an improvised coffee, a talk and you can enjoy the view. Hans and Miro, the Regional Secretary and the Office and Publications Intern, are the office staff of WSCF and both work full time, mostly in this office but often travelling to meet SCMers at different events.
Miro manages the website and Facebook of WSCF Europe and works with the Editor in Chief on the publications. He is in regular contact with our member movements, promoting the WSCF events and helping with organising practicalities connected to them, like writing invitation letters and so on. And, of course, he supports Hans in the everyday tasks of the office.
Hans is responsible for the day to day work of managing the WSCF Europe, linking up with the ERC whenever important thematic or organisational questions come up. That entails working on fundraising and donor reports, providing practical input for the organisation of WSCF events, networking with SCMs and all the small and big tasks that come with running an office (and a legal organisation) in Germany. Approximately one day per week, he works with the global level of the Federation together with the Interregional Office in Geneva and the Regional Secretaries of the African, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asia and Pacific Regions.
The office is full of little memories of the WSCF past: there is copy of the official letter sent to Société de Banque Suisse telling them that WSCF Europe does not wish to be clients there anymore as they, at the time (in 1982), supported the Apartheid Regime in South Africa. There is a Finnish cartoon from a former Regional Secretary giving good advice on how to write convincing fundraising applications. And there are loads of Christmas Cards from WSCF Friends and much, much more.
So you should come by! Seeing the faces of the people who are this Federation (You!), can be unbelievably supportive on days with endless fundraising applications, German organisational law and heavy inboxes. Visits can be little breaks that remind us why we work to sustain and develop this federation: because of the valuable relationships that we build across all kinds of borders, from everyday concerns to cultural gaps.
And, when you come by, don’t forget to bring chocolate…