Over the years, the core welcoming team of ICV has actually built up a lot of valuable expertise. They know that each conference needs a permanent group of welcoming volunteers, because only they will not have to reinvent the wheel all the time. And they know how to prepare and what to expect.
During the first part of a conference, an ICV team typically figures out what they need to know about the conference and the accommodation, including what the organizers forget to tell them. And by the end of the event, they know more than anybody else. In the meantime, they will for instance receive conference fees, distribute badges, confirm airline tickets, show people around, and always respond in a friendly way to any question about the conference program or the venue. After all, the volunteers are living visit cards for the organizing organization. It may even involve helping people whose passport or car has been stolen, or people who arrive with only ten dollars or without warm clothes in winter.
Although one can only go so far, notes Wanda. To questions like 'Would you know how I could stay and live in Switzerland' or 'Do you want to marry me?' one can only reply by convincing them to take watches or chocolates instead.
For Magda, another seasoned ICV volunteer, an international conference cannot be big enough. She just loves to work with people and be useful. Having worked at the International Telecommunication Union, she knows the UN and the Genevan Conference Centre CICG by heart. And she will use that knowledge to make things better whenever she can. Actually she would have had a tip or two for the organizers of the roundtable discussion with Gorbachev, and so would Micheline. Nevertheless they enjoyed being there. "It was interesting to hear what was going on behind the scenes twenty years ago, because I lived that period. And Gorby was very charismatic", says Magda.
Wanda, Micheline and Magda all wish there were more very large conferences coming through Geneva. This year, ICV has been involved in a lot of smaller events and events that needed volunteers with specific technical skills, such as translators, interpreters and reporters. But there are big international conferences coming up again. Make sure you check the ICV agenda and reserve the dates as well!