When it Comes to Volunteering, the Sky is the Evaluator’s Limit by Hayat Askar

Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.


Hi, I am Hayat Askar, I work as a Monitoring and Evaluation section Head in a state organization. I joined my local evaluation association; EvalJordan, in 2014. I was elected a board member in 2017 and was nominated as a vice president for two years (2019–2021).

Background

I still remember how excited I was when I first knew that applications to join EvalJordan were open. When I look back on that day, I can see that the decision to join the association was a major shift in my professional career.

EvalJordan is the Voluntary Organization for Professional Evaluation (VOPE) in Jordan. It is an active member in regional and global networks, including EvalMENA and EvalPartners, to name a few.

In his AEA365 blog post, Jim Rugh spoke about the story of VOPEs and how they have emerged. It is exciting to see VOPEs evolving that quickly. Not only that, VOPEs have an increasing role in supporting the national evaluation systems and a more active role in policymaking.

What does this add to me as an evaluator?

Florence Etta, EvalSDGs Vice co-chair and a former president of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA), said during the C2021 conference: “Wherever you are, you should identify and find a space at each of these locations in a sense to give your actions an agency, where thinking, actions, and research are encouraged.” Ziad Moussa during EvalSDGs’ first Dialogue on SDGs’ Implementation Landscape: VOPEs and Networks, said that VOPEs are in his DNA. He added that it is the place of collective power where “the whole is more than the part of the sum.”

Different voluntary options can be available to evaluators. Samantha Larose, in her blog on evalEcademy, explained how volunteerism allows for engagement with new populations and places and enhances professional development in a less traditional sense.

When one starts looking for voluntary opportunities, one thinks it is a very hard mission. But when it comes to doors open available for evaluators, the sky is the limit!

Personally, Learning and advancement are key motivators for me, and this is definitely something EvalJordan has offered me.

It had helped me create connections with evaluators from all over the world, learn from great mentors and build new friends.

Where do I start?

Go look for your local VOPE. Follow some regional or global network in the area of your concern, for example, youth-focused, SDG-focused, sectoral-focused, etc and you will find great opportunities to volunteer.

Volunteering is rewarding, and even more rewarding when it is in your local VOPE. It helps you build networks with like-minded people around you and gives you the flexibility to apply your selected tools in new contexts. You will have the chance to apply new tools and do tasks your job might not offer you, the tasks you are leading or maybe the time does not allow. For example, I was always interested in the SDGs, and EvalSDGs’ network allowed me to have this focus.  

Hot Tips

  • Go with the mentality that you will be giving and not only getting. We all have something to give. Do not underestimate your skills and experience. Even new to the field can add a lively spirit and encouraging vibes.
  • Voluntary work takes time: usually volunteers have their own professional and personal commitments. Tasks might take time so be acceptable for that.
  • Have the passion: Volunteering requires time and effort. Allow passion to drive you. You will go into ups and downs. You may feel excited one day and depressed the following day. That’s ok, remember your passion and why you are here in the first space.
  • Be kind to yourself. Celebrate small successes. Your contribution in itself is rewarding.
References

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