Alexandra Cleanthous

About Me!

Hello everyone! My name is Alexandra, I’m 23 years old and I come from the small island of Cyprus. I studied Politics, History and International Relations in Greece and France and as you can see, my education has nothing to do with the environment. I worked as a Researcher while I studied in Greece and I followed a research Master in France. I applied for the volunteer program when I was doing my internship in the Embassy of Cyprus in Madrid and while I was planning my next steps.
The plan was to go to Madagascar and be in the field for three months, getting to know another country, more exotic and so far away! I wanted to travel and have a break from all the studying, so this was the perfect opportunity.

But, not everything goes the way we want. When Moia told me that there is a position in Switzerland that better fits my profile, I didn’t hesitate at all! I also talked with Seline, a previous volunteer, and she told me that this is a great opportunity and I shouldn’t miss it! I packed a suitcase and I was off to Switzerland.

The Experience?

Seline was right. It was a truly an amazing experience. I had never done any research about the environment from a political aspect. One of the things I learned is that even though the environment suffers and we all know it, no one actually does anything effective. After the disappointment from Copenhagen, it was quite obvious that politicians were still not ready to face the problem.

What we tried to do in the Hot House was to show the politicians and other officials that the environment must be among their priorities. One of our projects that impressed me was when we linked each of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the environment: we tried to show that investing in the protection of the environment, we could see an improvement to other problems as well (such as poverty, mortality, education etc..). But it’s still difficult to enter the negotiations and convince each leader that money must be spent for the environment. Today, national security, economy and trade are what matters.

There’s no doubt that my stay there offered me a unique and – dare I say – profound knowledge about environmental politics. But the most important thing I learned was the power of a team. I was lucky enough to work with 5 intelligent people, ready to explain to me anything I didn’t know or understand. I saw the importance of working alone but still within a group and the power that a small team can gain through hard work and prove that its existence is necessary and indispensable.
 / ©: WWF / Alexandra Cleanthous
Me!
© WWF / Alexandra Cleanthous

The most important thing I learned was the power of a team!

My Advice?

  • If you have the chance, do it! Especially if you are passionate about politics and research, you will love it!
  • Absorb everything you learn. At the beginning, I felt that I won’t be able to learn all this. But I did and it was worth it.
  • Work hard and you will feel good afterwards.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Use the team for your own benefit.
  • Travel! Try to visit France and Switzerland. It’s very close and a week-end is enough for visiting the villages close to Gland.
 / ©: WWF / Alexandra Cleanthous
With Chun in the Hot House
© WWF / Alexandra Cleanthous
© WWF / Alexandra Cleanthous

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