A Walking Dead geek.
The heart and soul of UNV.
Aneta Mrkvičková, a UN Youth Volunteer from the Czech Republic, is our first volunteer we pass the MIC to. This is the record of Aneta’s traveling childhood and desire to follow her dad’s path, and her experience as UN Volunteer. As true communications person, Aneta also turns the MIC around and interviews Ichita. Enjoy!
Ichita Komori, Japan
UN University Volunteer in Advocacy and
Mobilization on Youth
As a current Global Studies student, he volunteers at UNV Cambodia since October 2016 for five months. He mainly works with the Community Action Challenge
project groups, as well as promoting volunteerism through social media, visual contents and web articles (like this).
With various office skills gained through her volunteering career, Aneta is working at UNV Cambodia since March 2016 for a one year assignment. Her main tasks includes communication, volunteer recruitment and support to the 18 UN Volunteers in Cambodia, as well as promoting our activities through publications & social media, and being a great photographer.
So, the dialogue begins …
LOT369, a great cafe that offers healthy & ethical foods. Near the Russian Market in Phnom Penh. Photo: Ichita Komori
So Ichita, how would you start the interview?
I haven’t planned anything. But your story is always very interesting
I just talk about Walking Dead (*American TV series) !
You talked about your career, family, hobbies,… and how your Czech friends thought about you volunteering.
That’s the darker side of the story.
But it shows how some people think about volunteering.
Yes. Especially in Europe, if you say volunteering, people assume that you work for no money, build wells, teach at schools etc. I also thought like that at first.
I heard you were in Georgia, in Russia, in Thailand… so where did it all start?
Yeah, I traveled a lot. I love traveling, different cultures, people and their different mentalities. That’s why I always wanted to work abroad. My dad used to work in different countries, at different Czech Embassies. So, from the very early age I just got used to it.
A travelling childhood.
First when I was 6 years old, my dad started working in Moscow and I started primary school there. I finished primary school in Czech, then my dad went to Ukraine and I finished high school there.
After we went back to the Czech Republic, I started studying International Relations and Diplomatic Studies which I always wanted to do. When I finished university, I wanted to follow my dad’s footsteps. I started internship at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Thailand so that I can eventually work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Following dad’s path, then to the sideways
At the International Volunteer Day 2016, Aneta taking selfie with the UNV team.
…but actually, it didn’t work out.
A bummer for me. But then, I started to think: What is the thing that’s close to my heart, the thing that represents who I am? Because you’re young, you still don’t know what exactly you want to do at that age. So I started to think, then I figured out: the United Nations.
Now you’ve found the way to go.
But the problem was that when I found out about UNV, it was already the deadline for submitting applications and I missed it. I had 1 year until the next call for applications. So I told myself “OK, let’s take 1 year off after finishing University, and just like, relax”.
That’s a big decision to make.
So far until graduating University, everything was according to a plan, what Czech people would expect as the right thing to do. No gap years, no messing around … just studying and working.
And what did you do during that 1 year?
I tried to get as much experience as possible. I have worked as a volunteer for People in Need and Burma Center in Prague. I went to Georgia with my parents and I volunteered online for Czech Caritas organization and improved my English and Russian language skills by attending classes. Thanks to all this, I have gained more experience in communications which now helps me in my current position. After 1 year, I applied for UNV in Cambodia. That’s how I ended up here.
So it was good, taking this 1 year off.
Definitely. I also traveled with my parents a lot, and I love Georgia. Out of those 3 countries we’ve lived, Georgia is the best.
What’s there in Georgia?
There is… everything in Georgia. There is the seaside for the summer, mountains for the winter and beautiful countryside that is still not fully discovered. Not a lot of tourists visit Georgia. If I ever go snowboarding again, I’d definitely go to Georgia.
Ichita’s Story: Volunteering in Germany
What about you? Why did you choose to apply for this position? I will now interview you!
Well… the story starts when I took two years off during my 3rd year of university.
Yeah, you see?
I wanted to take some time off to see whether I really needed the things I was doing in my University. I traveled back to Germany, where I spent my childhood from 3 to 9. There I luckily found an opportunity to volunteer at Friedensdorf International, and it turned out to be a really good experience.
Friedensdorf International provides medical supports to individual children & countries around the world. Photo: Friedensdorf International
Yeah, because you get to know yourself more, right?
I never knew that I liked children! I’ve never been close to children, but I found myself there. What I did was grassroots activities, like taking care of them, providing foods and medical treatments, …
Exactly what I though volunteering is like at the first.
I liked working in the field, but I also had stress from the limited extent of what I could contribute, and the unrealistic rules and requests from the office staff. Therefore, I wanted to see how things work from an organisational stand point, not the field.
Hmm, it’s different indeed.
Having worked at UNV office, now I see both sides of the problem of communication between the field and the office.
… So, back to Aneta again, she blooms here at UNV
At a VolCam Task Force meeting for the International Volunteer Day 2016.
I must say, I like what I experienced so far, as a UN Youth Volunteer. I think I found myself in the position of Communications Officer.
I wasn’t like that. Since I was young I was very shy and silent. I would be like, “Please don’t talk to me!”. But as I got more experience, I got more confidence.
And now you are comfortable talking about UNV anytime.
I am far better when it’s a smaller group, and when we’re concentrating on a specific task. For example, the UN day. When we were discussing the overall agenda at the beginning, I was like…
…and then we split in small task force groups.
And worked on specific things, like “how to transport the SDGs cubes”.
Yeah! I was so nervous when I first coordinated transport of the SDGs cubes for the UN day event. Then as the cubes arrived, of course, one cube was missing the: Gender equality.
That’s not good…
I was like “Ooh, this is very bad, we need to get it!” Then I called tried to call everywhere. Fortunately, I found the cube at the UN Women’s office. Only few hours left to the start of the event. My colleague and I went there on her motorcycle, and we drove back with me holding this huge cube under my arm. It was kind of a promotion! It was fun.
Aneta with the SDG cube: Gender equality
People in UN Agencies
How do you find the people who work here?
I was very surprised that many people are really open-minded, they were willing to hear my ideas and opinions.
Some people encounter problems being volunteers or interns that nobody really listens to them or their opinions. I was kind of worried about that, that I will be just nobody. But here at UNV, I must say, my opinion really mattered and people would take my ideas and opinions into account!
Sometimes I even forget that I’m here as a volunteer.
I also found that by working in English, I can express my opinions much better. If it’d be in Japan, I’d have to express everything in the honorific language and it makes many things roundabout.
Do you think differently once you know English?
Yes, I think & express more direct.
There is this good movie about languages and expressing called “Arrival”. It deals with the idea that when you learn new language you acquire ability to think differently. There was one quote that says:
The language you speak determines how you think, how you see everything.
The one with this huge strange object?
Yeah, those are aliens! But it is not the usual alien movie.
When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team – lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) – is brought together to investigate.
What I found about people here is, the feeling of being in a big group which is tight, nobody is out, and everybody is part of it.
I think it is because we don’t have to compete each other when we volunteer.
That’s exactly right! I think those who volunteer are the kind of people who like to help others. They are kind and friendly. I found that in this environment, I bloom more than back in Czech Republic.
With these diverse people.
I think we won a lottery here, being in this amazing group of people.
Working with diverse people and discovering yourself – volunteering is a good starting point for personal development! Aneta is finishing her assignment on March 2017, but she wants to find her next position here and stay in Cambodia. I wish you all the best luck, Aneta!