Hi! My name is Sonali, my friends usually call me So. I’m from Patna, the capital of Bihar and one of the oldest cities filled with diverse culture, rich history and one of the top 8 climate crisis-prone states of India. Our state has suffered from one of the worst floods every year leading to lots of death and damages.

How did you get involved with Mock COP26?

I came across Mock COP26 while I was volunteering for UN MGCY. I still remember when I read the description about Mock COP26 and its vision, I got the instinct that it was something I wanted to be a part of. In my country, climate change is still not one of the top priorities. As a developing country, we have various agendas to work for like hunger, education, employment, safety etc. When dealing with these major topics, climate issues are always kept on hold. And for the worst, not everyone is even aware of the depth of the situation. Through Mock COP26 I wanted to raise the voice of the climate emergency in my country and make our government realise that solving climate issues and working on the intersectionalities with SDGs will be a key to solving various other issues. 

I joined Mock COP26 back when it was still shaping, I initially joined as a volunteer and used to work under different working groups to use my knowledge for shaping the initiative. I then applied for the role of event coordinator for which I got accepted during Phase 1 of the initiative. For Phase 2, I’m involved as an international volunteer and working on getting the treaty accepted in my country.

What does a day in the life as a volunteer look like for you?

There is no average day at Mock COP26. One of the best things about volunteering for Mock COP26 is that every day is different. One day, I might be working on inputting data, the next I’m working with Mana on strategies to improve the structure and political engagement in Asia and the next I might be helping the media team with content or design. Since we are still a small team, we get to see different aspects of how it works and contribute to different areas which enable Mock COP26 to function effectively. 

 

Which working groups are you involved in?

At the moment I’m involved with the communication and resource management working group but I also help other working groups from time to time. 

Which working group is the most fun and why?

The Outreach working group is the most fun working group for me. I like outreaching organisations and creating new networks, talking about our initiative and brainstorming on potential partnership opportunities. 

Which Working Group is the most challenging and how does it grow your abilities as a volunteer?

Wellbeing and security working group is the most challenging working group for me. During phase 1 of the event, we had volunteers and delegates from countries where any form of activism would be considered terrorist activity. As event coordinators, it was our responsibility to make sure their life is not at any form of risk. This role really helps you shape your mindset and forces you to think out of the box when you know someone’s life depends on your choices. Volunteer and delegate well-being is also a challenging working group for me. It’s very important for an organisation to make sure everyone is doing okay. That nobody feels unheard or has the feeling of being left out from anything and with an increase in the number of members keeping track of all of it becomes more difficult. But as they always say, when there is a will there’s away. In the end, we came up with guidelines after having a lot of reviews, proofreading and consultation and we made sure we followed these guidelines. But if after all these measures put in place, if someone still experienced certain issues, there was always someone to resolve it. 

What makes your work as a volunteer fun?

Connecting with like-minded people from all over the world, learning about their culture and their stories, and brainstorming on new projects is fun and motivating at the same time. 

How do you balance your volunteer work with school/work/personal life?

I usually pre-plan my week every Sunday, making a list of all the work I have to do or being assigned to do for the week. It helps me keep track of my time and it becomes easier to know when I’m free how flexible I can be for that day. I definitely prioritize my university work and lectures and then the rest of the time I utilize it for either improving my skills, volunteering for causes or just networking. Sundays are always free for my friends, self-care and hobbies. I make sure that’s the one day in the week I’m disconnected from the internet and just working on making peace within me. 

What would you tell someone who is having doubts/fears about volunteering at Mock COP26?

Whenever I fear or have a doubt about my choices my go-to mantra had always been this: “My abilities will always outweigh my doubts. The moment when I think I can’t is the moment that I can.” ~Lissa Rae

MockCOP isn’t about doing everything perfectly or something big or time-consuming. Mock COP26 is about creating impact with small contributions. Here in Mock COP26, we work on improving our skills, our abilities, learning various forms of management and most importantly our time management skills. We learn to improve communication skills, social media skills by being part of various working groups. We meet people who are always ready to help each other out with practically anything, we value each individual and what they can bring to the team. So if you have doubts before filling the form my suggestion is to just dive into it because you’re gonna have one of the best experiences here. 

At the end of the day, the Mock COP26 volunteering experience is what you make of it, but I can guarantee you that there will always be something to do. What’s great is that you can bring your own talents and experiences to make the role your own. Mock COP26 is also committed to the development of its volunteers, setting goals and objectives to accomplish during your time here. 

Each role is different but we all work together at the end of the day to continue Mock COP’s valuable work. For me, it has been a huge learning curve, but I now have a much greater understanding of how organisations function and their role in development. I’ve also come away with a much clearer idea of where I want to go in the future, which for someone in a university is quite a relief!

Interview by: Cherop Soy
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