“Making the World a Better Place”

Neli (right) and Diana at ICV's WSIS Info Booth in ILO
Neli (right) and Diana at ICV's WSIS Info Booth in ILO
Patrycja Perek, traducción española Diego Beamonte, traduction française Kate O’ Dwyer
30 June 2011

Always smiling and full of positive energy. When you hear someone at ICV telling stories and laughing, it is probably her: Neli Tsvetanova. She comes from Bulgaria, but do not be surprised if one day she welcomes you with the Chinese “Ni hao”. Neli studied and lived in Beijing until her globetrotting recently brought her to Geneva.

“I arrived in Geneva and was looking for some interesting opportunities, interesting things to do. I was researching websites, looking for organizations that work on projects that might interest me. By chance, I discovered ICV’s website and saw some projects I was very interested and wanted to participate in.”

Neli was invited by ICVolunteers for an information session, where she had a chance to meet the rest of ICV’s team and to be briefed on upcoming events. “I felt warmly welcomed. There was a friendly team of young and dynamic people, who were very open to listening to me, hearing about my interests, and based on my skills and experience, to giving me opportunities to which I can contribute.”

The first Conference project she signed up for was the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a conference organized by UNISDR and the World Bank. Neli’s responsibility at that time was team coordination. But as she told us, for a conference of such an enormous scale, it is important to be flexible and to manage duties outside of your responsibility. “It was also very beneficial. It helped me develop problem-solving skills,” stated Neli.

Based on these two experiences, Neli decided that she wanted to be a long-term contributor with ICV. Neli’s area of focus and major project is researching “Cyber-volunteering” and investigating the motivations of cyber volunteers. It was the first time she undertook such an endeavor, but she believes that the experience gained in ICV will help her in her future career and professional development.

“My aspiration is to continue to work for non-governmental organizations, primarily because I have already experienced working in a traditional company. Their values concentrate on developing business, making a profit, without considering the impact that they have on society. This is not in line with my personal virtues and values.”

Neli’s hope is that, if one day she returns to Bulgaria, she will be able to leverage and apply her experience in her native homeland. Today, Bulgaria has one of the lowest number of volunteers in Europe. This unfortunately stems from a heritage of a communist regime that plagues many former Soviet countries. "If, in the future, I return to my country, I will focus on trying to change people’s minds and show them that volunteering does make a difference. Personally, it is very important for me to be able to contribute within my country. I think that is normal – everybody wants to assist in the development of their own country. Is not our goal to make the world a better place?”

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