Viktoriia Udaltsova, Online Volunteer with the Accelerator Lab of UNDP in Ukraine.

Online Volunteer supports communication chatbot between citizens and policy makers in Ukraine

My name is Viktoriia Udaltsova, from a small town near Kyiv, Ukraine. I came across the UNV Online Volunteering Service in 2021, during the lockdown that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. That is when my volunteering journey started in the United Nations system, and for me, there's been no turning back. 

I started volunteering and interning throughout my bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of York. I volunteered with the Ukrainian Institute in London and TEDxLondon, among others. It was then that I found an interesting UNV online volunteer assignment with the Accelerator Lab of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine, which required a translator for five months. 

Before this stint, I had no idea about the Accelerator Lab and the work it did. My assignment entailed translating documents for the team and while doing so, I became very interested in the work of the United Nations and the development context.

After this short-term assignment ended, I stayed updated with UNDP Ukraine's social media and soon found another opportunity with them as an online volunteer.

The opportunity was to support digital event facilitation within the Ukraine Strategic Foresight for recovery and development policies.

I assisted the team with the development of a chatbot which provides near-real-time intelligence and enables systematic communication between citizens and policy-makers. It has the potential of becoming a tool at the parliamentary level to help the policy-making environment in Ukraine and make the country more resilient to future challenges. --Viktoriia Udaltsova, Online Volunteer with UNDP, Ukraine

Other responsibilities included supporting workshops, documenting notes and compiling data. The workshops were of particular interest to me, as they covered topics like energy transitions, democratic governance and rethinking the international order. 

For communication purposes, the team and I used Telegram and WhatsApp. The exchange was always interactive and productive. I felt mentored by my peers at Accelerator Lab, who supported me to reach my goals. I got an opportunity to analyze surveys and focus groups, which were highly relevant to my research and career interests while helping develop a real tool with the potential to improve the policy-making environment in Ukraine. The insights I gained on what successful online collaboration looks like will add to my professional skills.

For me, it was important to know that this online collaboration was going to be used locally. I was enthused at the idea to develop the Strategic Foresight of Ukraine into a platform where experts, decision-makers and citizens could discuss national policies. 

The UNDP Accelerator Lab recognizes the value of the virtual service online volunteer provide.

Online Volunteers have contributed to many Accelerator Lab activities. Thanks to UNV's Online Volunteering service, motivated individuals volunteer to collaboratively work in development approaches. The lab utilized collective intelligence, creative foresight, citizen science and experimentation to address sustainable development challenges. This is where Online Volunteers helped our efforts and proposed innovative solutions. --Ievgen Kylymnyk, former Head of Exploration, UNDP Accelerator Lab, Ukraine