Julia Sharonova

Julia Sharonova: Why I volunteer at TEDxZurich

Things are heating up around here and we are kicking into third gear with our preparations for the big event in November. As part of that, we are again looking for some kickass volunteers to help us make the day an unforgettable experience. We caught up with Julia Sharonova to find out what it is like and why she decided to join TEDxZurich.

What is special about being a volunteer at TEDx Zurich?

People, without any question. And their ideas. It is pure magic, when the massive space of SRF studio is being filled with ideas, of the speakers, the audience, the organiser and of course the volunteers.

To me TED gives ideas a space without judgment, where they can be spread and find the right people to be heard, grow roots and hopefully evolve into something bigger. Perhaps this is why it is so easy to connect to people during volunteering at TEDxZurich. In my first year of volunteering, I didn’t know anyone from the crew. There were 80 people I had never met before. I met volunteers, who are responsible for profound changes in their companies, who left paid jobs for a non-profit organization, who are inventing new materials, starting a company, fighting global warming or who are simply making some small but important changes every day. It doesn’t matter whether they had already achieved a lot or were just starting out and thinking about changes, everybody has a story to tell.

Everyday heroes made the biggest impact on me. You don’t have to be a politician with power over millions of people, a famous artist or a scientist inventing a radically new theory to make an impact in your community. The volunteering crew is you and me and some other motivated changemakers. Even if you are not planning a revolution, evolution consist of the incremental changes we make. I made a resolution to hide less and put more of my unconventional ideas on the table in my everyday life. Since then this experience has fuelled my courage to change the direction of my career, to take a role of innovation driver in my profession and to say ‘hell yes’ to my own independent projects.

TEDx Zurich Volunteer’s Day

In my opinion, this opportunity in November is the only good reason to wake up at 6am I can think about (FYI: I’m a night owl, who has a tendency to hibernate when it’s cold). The day starts with the volunteers briefing. Once each of us gets ultimate clarity on their tasks, after grabbing a coffee and a quick exchange with your teammates, we open the doors to the audience. In my first year I was lucky to work at the station right by the SRF studio door, so I could see the faces of 600 people coming in. I remember their excitement and anticipation to have their minds blown with new ideas. Of course, powerful talks are in the center, but the whole experience the audience is receiving during the event is carefully carved by the Core Team and made a reality by all of us, including the volunteers.

TEDx Zurich Volunteer application is now open! Join the force, contribute ideas and help us make TEDxZurich 2018 happen! Sign up here.

Sarah Ebling

          Sarah Ebling holds a professorship in Accessibility Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and is a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on natural language processing in the context of disabilities and special needs, specifically, sign language technology and automatic text simplification. Her groups’ contributions involve artificial intelligence techniques with a strong emphasis on user involvement. She is involved in various international and national projects and leads a large-scale Swiss innovation initiative entitled „Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies“ (2022-2026; https://www.iict.uzh.ch/).