Benefits of a volontary service through self-development aspects
When going for a volontary service one thing you are gonna hear a lot about is « self-development ». This is a current topic coming before and during the ESC, especially during the 2 trainings (arrival and mid-term seminars). The last years the self-development words are kind of famous as well as topics like motivtion and productivity (morning miracle in every youtube video as exemple). I thought it could be good to define what it actually is and the link with a volontary service. So let's start with the well-known Maslow's hierarchy of needs because this was the first time I heard about self-actualisation during one of my first economic course. This was done in 1970 and explain that only when one level of need is met a higher one can be developed . You can read on the picture that it start with Physiological needs and go until Self-actualisation where it's explained as « reaching full potential », « becoming everything one is capable of becoming ». Again Maslow says that this last process involves being in connection with your feelings, experiencing the life fully and with a maximum concentration. Or beeing at a full potential means first knowing about our own capabilities.
Many studies have been done explaining how international experiences can change a person's sense of self. Self-actualisation can not be achieved without knowing himself/herself really good. This has a name « Self-concept clarity » and is linked to psychological well-being, the ability to manage stress and also with job performance. Studies about how to develop this concept were limited but we could find one done by the Harvard business review. They interviewed over 2000 people, some that lived abroad and some other that did not. The survey found out that the first category of people have a clearer sense of self. An explanation is that people in the same country tend to act in similar ways because of the cultural behaviours. They do not question it but do it, imitate it since little. When there is no more cultural similarities the person has to question why he/she is acting in this way and so to reflect on his/her values instead of complying with cultural ones.
Finaly, I searched a proper definition to self-improvement and I ended up with this one:
any change you try to make to your total life strategy.
In the same source «total life strategy » is explained as :
« a collection of every habit, behavior and thought pattern, conscious and unconscious, that you use to solve the problems you have in life, meet your needs and stay alive. »
So this life strategy is gonna help you in all steps of your life to overcome the obstacles. It is basically gonna make you more efficient in solving the problems you will have to face to achieve your goals.Well I don't know if I self improved during my EVS but my habits have changed for sure. I don't know if my problem-solving skills are better neither but sometimes it's just about confidence. I see it easier, I feel more confident. And people grow faster when they are in difficult conditions.Living abroad allows to learn to deal with uncomfortable situations (becoming every day almost when far from home and home habits). It makes you find funny your reactions in uncomfortable situations. To my mind it makes people more realistic and less anxious.