How United Nations Can Adapt From Mozilla
Daunting days for some, hard working days for others, exam days have proven to be the time for exploration of new topics, projects and opportunities for me. Being a supporter of world peace, I wished to know more about the United Nations and the functioning of its different bodies when I came across the UNV (United Nations Volunteer) program. I went through the program thoroughly and wasn’t quite satisfied with the structure of the program. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this program can be improved by adapting some values from Mozilla’s volunteer programs. Both organizations share similar values!
Mozilla’s volunteer programs are aimed at empowering participants to spread the initiatives of free and open-source software, respecting the privacy of users and helping to build a safe and better web. United Nation’s initiatives include promoting or spreading world peace, sustainable development and building a safer and better world (pardon me if I miss something important). The similarity that I noticed here is that both organisations push for better values in the cyber-world and earth respectively.
While the volunteer structure of Mozilla is fairly open, transparent and easy to join, I found that the UNV program is quite restricting in terms of age of participants and the application process itself is quite tiresome and confusing. I felt that it is somewhat limiting in what field of contribution the volunteer can work on. I for one, would be interested to somehow contribute to the diplomatic or political areas, albeit I may not be sufficiently qualified for the job. This is where community education kicks in and a mentorship structure helps (Webmaker had Super Mentor, Mentor and Mentee structure which helped to spread awareness about Web Literacy and at the same time learn something from our mentors while doing our work. Mozilla Representatives (ReMo) program also have mentors, a governing council and a useful orientation period).
We must respect the fact that volunteers are taking time out of their busy schedule and we must not set hard prerequisites for them. It is the responsibility of an organisation to teach the volunteers, allowing them to grow within the organisation’s ecosystem to make bigger impact in the core initiatives. Volunteer communities succeed in creating more impact than an individual volunteer or many different disjointed volunteers can make.
I had joined Mozilla as a Student Ambassador (FSA) two years back, helped EMail response team, worked with web engineers at Webmaker, got promoted to Regional Ambassador Lead (RAL), got accepted into the Mozilla Representatives (ReMo) program and finally was inducted into the FSA E-Board as a Communications Lead. I can say that my journey has been enriching in terms of what I have learnt from my mentors and the experience and exposure that I have gained. This has helped me to access and improve the contributions that I am making to the free web.
I want to be clear that I deeply respect the work that United Nations is doing and the impact they are making. I just feel that the volunteer structure can be greatly enhanced to uplift the efforts of the great organisation. Some changes that I would like to propose are:
- Easier application process with only “light” pre-requisites.
- Wider availability of contribution areas for the volunteers to join. Creating small but clear opportunities to contribute.
- Better documentation for the contributors to enable them and trusting volunteers more.
- Empowering the volunteers to submit proposals before the various committees to improve the program structure itself, so that the impact can be magnified.
- Volunteer training and Mentoring program, to teach the volunteers, helping the to improve the quality of their contributions (community mentoring structure is a great way to handle this suggestion gracefully without disrupting existing norms).
- Creation of interacting and deeply connected volunteer communities.
I am quite aware that some of my suggestions might sound unimplementable or perhaps even naive, but I am sure that these obstacles can be overcome if we try hard enough. Afterall, they are called obstacles only because we can overcome them. I implore you to have a look at the different volunteer program structures around the world, so that we all can learn something new from each other.
Thanks for reading this article, please feel free to pitch in your constructive suggestions for promoting world peace and making the world a better place to dwell. Keep visiting tanaypant.com for more articles on such topics. Have a great day ahead!