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  • Skribentens bildAmanda Borneke

Success story from volonteering

My university years was my prime time for volunteering. It gave me a huge network within the sustainability field. Back in 2018, I wrote this piece of blog post which I never published. It has insight from my volunteering at SIWI, memories from my work in Zambia and my best mingle advice - all summarised in 500 words below.

My name is Amanda Borneke and I work as a Sustainability coach in Sweden. I am currently located in Chipata, Zambia. Here I am on a scholarship from Mölndal Municipality to review the Chipata City Council’s waste and water treatment plants. When Irina Makarchuck wrote me and asked if I wanted to be part of SIWI “success stories”, I instantly said yes.

I was a volunteer for the WWW back in 2015. I had just started my masters of Environmental communication at SLU in Uppsala. I saw the fair as a perfect opportunity to discover perspectives and people that also wanted to create a sustainable planet. I was not disappointed. I created a world wide network, got a perfect understanding of water issues and - also made friends for life.

SIWI taught me many things that I have carried with me since. The communication and network training we learned then at the fair, are skills that I use daily in my work today. These tips and trix really increased my confidence to mingle. I was ready to network!

The skills are: 1. The feet: Looking at peoples feet tell you where they want to go in the conversation, if the feet does not point towards you, end the conversation. You can also use this towards others, make sure that your feet points forward the person you are taking to in able to continue the conversation.

  1. Conversation starters: Do not be afraid to give a compliment or comment something in your surrounding. I love your shoes! Which was your favourite session for the day? What are you looking forward the most at the fair? All great conversation starters.

  2. Mirroring: Where is the hands, posture, open arms/closed arms etc. What ever the person you are talking to - do the same. Unconsciously they will enjoy the conversation more.

  3. At last but nut least, Exchange contact info: you only succeed with your networking when you exchange information and know that you can reach each other later. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, set one up! This is the most common business platform.

Using these skills, one of my connection made was with a Zambian exchange student Danny Chibonga, that studied Sustainable Development at UU.  We both graduated our masters in 2017 and got jobs at municipal level and started to discuss a partnership between Zambia and Sweden. Finally in Chipata, my network skills was put up to a test. Thanks to my communication skills, I discovered similar interests between the  city council, a private enterprise, a social development organisation and a youth empowerment center. I received an instant audit with the Mayor of Chipata.

“We hear you had a success at the youth center, please tell us more about what you discovered so far”- The Mayor asks.

To wrap it up, SIWI gave me the confidence to never be afraid to try something new. SIWI put together an excellent recommendation letter that gave me the job that I have today. I can only hope that above-mentioned tools can be of help for the upcoming volunteers at the WWW. I am honoured to have given the chance to give back to the community of SIWI. Finally, I want to end with a favourite quote from Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible, it has the word possible in it!”

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