My first opportunity to speak in public about volunteerism
by Vojtech Hledik
Tashkent, Uzbekistan: I came from the Czech Republic to work at the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme as an intern at the UNAIDS Country Office in Uzbekistan, in the field of Communication and Advocacy. After three months in the country, I got my first opportunity to speak in public about volunteerism.
One of my duties was to meet people living with HIV and who got support from UNAIDS. The participants not only came from Tashkent, the capital, but also from Navoi and cities in the Ferghana Valley. The purpose of the meeting was to empower people living with HIV to get a better quality of life, provide support to peer programmes, and enhance their capacities in the fields of fundraising, project design, social partnerships or volunteerism.
The learning methods used by the trainer included role-playing games, group and individual exercises, and personal experiences of the participants themselves. When they found out that I was a UN Volunteer, they asked me for a short presentation about volunteerism from the western perspective, which I happily prepared for the day after.
I started introducing UN Volunteers’ presence in the world, focusing on its work in Uzbekistan, and the current process of strengthening cooperation with national volunteers. I also spoke about volunteerism in my home country – Czech Republic –, its legal framework, major volunteer organizations and activities, including my personal volunteering history.
The most interesting part of my presentation was trying to explain the difference between our understandings of volunteerism. Both our countries experienced the Soviet era when the perception of volunteerism was significantly different and was put under the centralized control of the state.
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