Feedback: to be part of the ICV Office team...

10 May 2005

The volunteer team at the Geneva office is a critical part of ICVolunteers, without which the organization could not run. Long-term volunteers, taking on responsibility for membership services, fundraising, translation and more, help the organization in a significant way. Each year, ICVolunteers offers a number of internships, in particular in the field of translation (specifically for English, French and Spanish). Louma Atallah and Caroline Daunes share their experience...

Louma Atallah, intern at the ICVolunteers office from April to June 2004: "I did the internship to gain professional experience. I was studying at the 'Ecole de traduction et d'interprétation' (ETI) in Geneva at the time. My job was to translate the annual report of ICVolunteers from English into French. Was it useful? Yes very much so. The experience gave me the opportunity to work quickly and efficiently on a long project, taking into account the constraints which present themselves. Roughly, there were constraints of time, quality, jargon of the field and the main idea one tries to transfer. I particularly enjoyed accomplishing a job from the beginning to the end. And also the initiatives that ICVolunteers let me take, and the confidence and encouragement of Viola (ICV Director) and Kathy (ICV Volunteer Coordinator). I have now just finished my studies and am looking for work."

Caroline Daunes was an intern from October to December 2004. She studied English in Toulouse and finished her studies in Vancouver (Canada). Back in Europe, she decided to complement her education with translation studies (French / English / German) at the ETI. Caroline: "I became an intern to be able to work and translate for an extended period of time. I wanted to know if I would still like it after some time. What I really appreciated was that René [a longtime volunteer translator of ICV, ed.] reviewed my texts, and the work we did together. Moreover, the subjects were always interesting, never forbidding, and rich in content and substance. Conclusion: fortunately, I have made a good choice in the course of my studies!

My computer skills, were not completely up to date when I started, where the internship was very useful too. Some advice for colleagues: do not hesitate to ask when you are not sure about something. For instance concerning the terminology used by international and non-governmental organizations. Internships are useful insofar as they allow you to use what you have learned at university in a different context. It is useful for the hosting organization as well as the translator, a win-win situation for everyone."

Private sector experience applied to the non-profit sector

Vijay Singh from India, was a volunteer at the ICV office until January this year. Armed with sales and marketing experience, he helped to contact companies in Geneva to interest them in sponsorship for the CyberVolunteers Program. Vijay has now joined his wife and  son in New York.

How did you get involved in ICV?

For the last eleven years or so of my professional career, I worked in sales in different countries. That gave me opportunities to work and interact with people from different geographical backgrounds. I moved to Switzerland from Kenya with my wife, who works for the United Nations. Once in Geneva, I used my so-called 'sabbatical break' to discover activities which probably would not have occurred to me otherwise.

One of them happened to be in the field of volunteerism. In order to get international conference exposure, I got involved in the World Summit on the Information Society (i.e. the WSIS conference in Geneva 2003, ed.), where I volunteered for ICVolunteers. One thing led to another and I eventually became part of the fundraising team of ICV, particularly focusing on the private sector.

How different was your volunteer work from previous jobs?

Before ICV I had been using my professional skills to facilitate sales and generate business, following the norms of the profession. Using my experience and skills for community development without any 'materialistic' gain was sort of unusual to my mould! So my volunteering was not only challenging but also an opportunity to learn new dynamics of interaction with people on a totally different level.

My role was primarily to initiate contacts with the private sector to discuss the CyberVolunteers Program and explore possibilities of forming a partnership to support the program. Through the program, volunteers who specialize in information and communication technology contribute to development projects with a special focus on the African region.

How do you rate your experience at ICVolunteers?

Great! It was a tremendous experience. I truly enjoyed working in a field which I only had encountered from a business perspective. Working at ICV also gave me an opportunity to interact with and learn from people with different backgrounds and experience.
Would you be pursuing volunteerism in the future?

First of all, I am happy that I contributed my time and experience to a project that benefits Africa, where I lived for almost eight years. Given the chance, I would be happy to volunteer for the CyberVolunteers Program as a side activity in the future.

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