Roskilde Festival draws international volunteers from all over the world, and many of these volunteers return again and again. We talked to a couple of these volunteers to understand what makes the volunteering experience at Roskilde Festival special.
Flying over 8000 kilometers overseas to volunteer at a summer music festival for 8 days, where you survive solely on caffeine, four to five hours of sleep, and the moral support of your volunteer team. Music, merriment and a foreign language blast into your ears at all hours. The night and day is lit up by a sun that seemingly never sets.
When described, being an international volunteer at Roskilde Festival sounds like a “once in a lifetime” experience. For many international volunteers, however, it’s not just once, but instead is a yearly lifestyle; they keep coming to experience the Orange Feeling for years, and it seems to be the volunteer experience that captivates them.
Roskilde Festival Cares
Take Stephanie Clemente, an American volunteer at Roskilde, who – like many international guests – chose to volunteer to attend the festival for free, but were then converted into a die-hard Roskilde volunteer once she had experienced the festival.
“Here as a volunteer, you definitely feel like you’re a part of something bigger,” Stephanie says. Not only does her volunteer work make the festival rewarding, but the appreciation shown by Roskilde to all volunteers does as well.
She values the clean bathrooms and warm showers, the meal vouchers that provide delicious food, and, especially, the volunteer village and lounge where volunteers can relax and enjoy a strong sense of community. And let’s not forget the parties that the volunteer teams host as well. Stephanie even dreams that we could do an all-volunteer party at Roskilde someday.
Cozily set up this year near the Apollo stage is the campsite of the self-named Latin Crew, a group of over 20 people from Latin America, most of whom are volunteers. Andres, Chilie, Acere, and Francisco are all Roskilde veterans who share the common background of being Latin American.
Andres said, “We started at the festival with like, four, five guys from Venezuela and Colombia. We made the Latin Crew camp and we bring our Venezuela flag everywhere. We take it to shows so we can always find each other.” While Andres and several others from the Latin Crew live permanently in Denmark, their friends from back home fly out to Roskilde every year to volunteer and visit.
Each year, they gain new additions to their Crew – like Pedro, who is volunteering at Roskilde and attending the festival for the first time this year, and he’ll be doing it next year. “I’m going to repeat, definitely. I already know,” he said.
Lost in Translation
But being an international volunteer at Roskilde comes with challenges that are exclusive to non- Danish-speaking people. “My first time volunteering I was the only English-speaking person and they just didn’t know what to do with me initially. They always had to find someone to translate for me because some of the others weren’t very comfortable with speaking English,” Stephanie said.
Since her first festival, she has far less trouble with the language difference. “Sometimes I have to speak up and say ‘Hey, I’m here!’ and ask them to repeat something in English,” she said, “Of course they always switch over very easily.”
Taking it Easy
The volunteers of the Latin Crew help each other with the language barrier, since a handful of them speak Danish. Chilie and Andres, for example, translate anything that their friends need to know from Danish into Spanish or English. They aren’t too concerned with the drawbacks of the language issue, however.
“Since we are from Latin America, we are more relaxed about things,” Andres said, “We just sit back and we’re fine.” If they were from another part of the world, perhaps the challenges of being an international volunteer would be more aggravating for them, but the Latin Crew doesn’t get too concerned.
Instead of translating everything, these guys would rather change the duration of their shifts. “I would rather work shorter shifts and then have more of them,” Chilie said. Despite the 8-hour shifts, though, the Latin Crew says they wouldn’t go to the festival as regular guests. Picking up trash or cleaning a few bathrooms is well worth it for them to experience Roskilde as volunteers.
Calling all Volunteers
Both Stephanie and the Latin Crew encourage anyone from anywhere in the world to volunteer at Roskilde. “I would recommend volunteering to anyone who comes to Roskilde, especially if you’re coming alone because it provides you with a natural community,” Stephanie said. She shares her experience with her network of friends and colleagues back home in the US, and the word-of-mouth recruiting is the same for the Latin Crew.
From New York to Venezuela and everywhere in between, international volunteers spread the word about their volunteer experiences at Roskilde, a festival which many international guests might not otherwise hear about. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and the experience of volunteering at Roskilde Festival is enriched by having volunteers from all over the globe.