Volunteers are not paid—they’re not worthless, they’re priceless. Indeed, volunteers are a priceless workforce in event management. Volunteers are always in need when you organize a large-scale event and especially if you are hosting the ASEM11 Summit and several side meetings in your country. Mongolia needed 1500 volunteers for pre-summit preparations and hosting of the ASEM11 Summit and we have them now.
Around 1500 young people from children organizations, rotary clubs and more than 20 universities and colleges volunteered and been divided into 30 groups of 50 following the military system of Chinggis Khaan. The criteria on which the volunteers were accepted included a general understanding of volunteerism and its values, acceptable knowledge of foreign languages, stable health, morals and attitude, ability to blend into a team, pressure tolerance and family consent. A total of 1303 students from 20 universities and colleges and volunteer organizations were recruited while the remaining 200 volunteers are students participating in the ‘Student-police’ project carried-out by the General Police Department and Mongolian Students Association.
ASEM Volunteers Staff headquarters is located at the Children’s Palace where various training sessions are being observed. The training, which is being given to volunteers include three stages- general training for the groups of 50 which has been taking place since April 1 and covered a majority of the volunteers so far. Team leaders had training scheduled in May, basic training on volunteerism and task performance scheduled from June to July and orientation training on the concerned job requirements and organizational issues are planned to take place from May to June. The orientation training is run by the ASEM Office of Mongolia and senior diplomats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will organize special tours to historical sites in Ulaanbaatar in order to train them as guides.
Thirty volunteer groups have been divided into working groups in charge of Media and public relations, Conference organization and documents, Security and ceremony, Transportation, communication and airport and Service, entertainment and food safety and ASEM partner hotels, ASEM Villa and Mongolian town. They will also contribute to gardening and wood plantation in the ASEM Villa, wood plantation in the National Garden Park and cleaning and landscaping certain sites in Ulaanbaatar. “Volunteer training is going well. These young people are learning a lot and this experience will help them shape their work ethic, professionalism and even career in the future. For example, journalism students were deployed to the Media and Public relations team. Around 200 international relations students have been divided into 4 groups and apparently they will engage with diplomats, translate when necessary and understand diplomacy and how an international event is held. Such practice will prove very useful as these students gain lots of experience and confidence, and will have a better understanding of their field when they graduate. The students were divided into 30 groups and different working groups in accordance with their course and future career”, said D.Enkhtuya, Volunteer team specialist at the ASEM Office.
Mongolia has already organized two side events of ASEM – ASEP9 and ASEM Senior Officials Meeting on April 21-23 and May 12-13 respectively. Some volunteers successfully took part in the ASEP9 and 30 in the ASEM SOM. “The ASEM Volunteer Staff have held discussions with the volunteers after each event and the students shared the challenges faced during their performance and lessons with each other,” said D.Enkhtuya. She said the volunteers opened-up about issues concerning punctuality, bossy tones and inquisitive delegates asking questions for which they had no suitable answer. Reflecting on these experiences from the first two ASEM side-meetings, the Staff Authority has taken into consideration of what aspects and areas should be highlighted and specifically counseled at the on-going training sessions.
“According to my observation, the delegates used tea-breaks very effectively to make new acquaintances and develop interesting conversations. As we are working in teams, I am learning the art of leadership and management. I have made many new friends since I volunteered”, says Bilguun, student of the International Relations at the National University of Mongolia who worked during the ASEM SOM. Eager to learn and gather experience, he volunteered and it’s his belief that one learns many things by serving others.
“I’ve worked as a secretary assistant in charge of documentation, copying and distributing information to delegates. I’ve collected tons of experience in documentation since it’s a volunteer experience for international summit preparation. It also benefits me greatly because I’m studying International relations. I think that contributing to the ASEM11 high level meeting is an honorable act. Since I worked in the pre-summit preparations and executed organizational tasks this time, I want to work at the ASEM Villa and airport”, says Uyanga, a student of International Relations at the National University.
The organization of ASEM11 high-level meeting of heads of states and governments will require participation of 1200 volunteers on July 15-16. We hope to make the Summit a great success and produce concrete achievements. And yet, these 1500 volunteers will be a valuable workforce in the future and we can be sure because they are contributing their time and effort voluntarily as students. Once you acquire knowledge or experience, no one can take it away from you. I believe ASEM volunteers will be the example.