Were you also forced to volunteer by your parents or college? In my First Year of college, I volunteered to teach adolescent students English and help them with their interview skills. The organization’s beneficiaries and I were around the similar age-group.
At first, I viewed it as an annoyance, just something I had to do to get my grade up. The first time I stepped into the centre, I felt like how am I supposed to help students who are older than me. What do I have to offer? What wisdom could I possibly impart? Because of which I didn’t take it seriously.
Slowly, as the sessions went by, I realised that the students were receptive to my sessions and actually picked up things that I taught them. They started using words that I taught them in their conversations with me. They would inform me if they had an interview so that I could do additional sessions with them. Soon, my outlook towards volunteering completely changed. I started preparing before the sessions, I would look forward to meeting the students.
What I didn’t realise back then was how much I took back from those students and how they helped shape my life too. My confidence level increased because I felt like I could add value to someone’s life at such a young age. The amount I complained about petty things decreased because there was a sense of empathy that developed in me.
4 things that the NGO did which shaped my volunteering journey from transactional to transformational
- Trust and Responsibility: They trusted me with the role: I was a teenager who was asked to teach students in their late teens and early twenties. I didn’t believe that I could help them but the NGO believed and trusted me with this responsibility, which made me want to do more. They gave me the freedom to do more, to take on additional responsibility like hosting extra classes for a few students. This empowered me to become a confident and committed volunteer.
- Flexible: One of the biggest barriers to volunteering pre-pandemic would be location and timing. They scheduled my sessions perfectly with my college timings and saw that the centre allotted was close to where I live. For some of my classmates who lived far away, they managed to provide them with a centre close to the college and adjusted the session timing based on the last lecture in college.
- Coordination: When I was ready to take more responsibility by conducting extra sessions they happily provided me with the support I needed. They managed all the backend coordination with the students adjusting their time-table with mine.
- Persistence and Patience: They were patient with me, I did make mistakes at the beginning and didn’t take my role seriously (Since I was technically forced to volunteer by my college). Their patience and persistence helped me grow into the role and become a better volunteer. They invested time in me by giving me feedback and tips on how to do the work better.
All of these simple acts by the NGO helped made my volunteering experience enriching.