“The Main Thing Is a Positive Attitude and a Clear Mind”: SUSU Graduate on Volunteering for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA 2018 World Cup has wrapped up in Russia. A few thousand volunteers came to help hold this large-scale event. Among them were SUSU students. Zlata Ponomareva graduated from the Faculty of Journalism this year. Immediately after defending her final project, she set off for Saint Petersburg to work in the “Assisting the Work of the Media” category of volunteers.

— How were volunteers chosen? Was it easy to become part of such an important sporting event?

— The selection occurred in several stages. These included initial questionnaires, tests on logistics, personal qualities, and language skills, an interview, and for my role there was an additional discussion. At the end of each stage, you earn points, and their number determines if you move to the next round or not.

— What tasks did you complete?

— We helped organize the work of journalists so that it was as comfortable as possible for everyone. The main zones of work of our role were: the media center, the mixed zone, the pitch, the media platform, and press conferences. Depending on the location, your range of responsibilities changes.

— What was the most interesting thing in your work?

— It’s impossible for me to pick one thing, I can say in one word – everything! Language practice and a chance to speak with colleagues, new friends from different corners of the world, meetings with old acquaintances, and a desire to show our foreign guests how wonderful our country is.

— Were there any funny situations?

— There were plenty of funny and ridiculous situations. The most memorable was probably the conversations among foreign journalists. They were talking about me in English:

– Look at that beautiful Russian woman…

– That one? Nooo, she’s not Russian.

– Why?

– She smiles a lot!

— Did you have a chance to speak with volunteers from other cities, in which matches were held?

— I had friends in practically every host city, we were constantly in contact, shared our experiences, exchanged our feelings.

— What did this volunteer experience teach you?

— This volunteer experience taught me that any problem can be solved, the most important thing is a positive attitude and a clear mind. You have to know how to speak with others; communication is very important. If someone raises their voice at you, you can’t do this in return, you have to calm the person down and help him/her solve the issue, and you must first of all overcome your own panic. And sometimes, you have to just smile, and they will smile back at you, and then incident practically disappears. And then this person will come to you with all his/her questions, because you’ve already passed your “trial by fire”, because s/he knows that you will help. And in this way, you become like family, in a way – you begin to greet them, smile. We also received many compliments.

Азалия Шарафутдинова
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