Is it worth to spend your time in something, you are not getting paid for? Or generally, why do you need to be a volunteer. Have you ever asked yourself?
I have asked myself that question, when I was studying in school. I had lots of plans, and haven’t ever thought about reaching them by volunteering, having no idea, that one day I will be advocate of it. It was surprising to me, to see many volunteers in our school, (Armenia) who came from America with a volunteering mission. In that period we had volunteers from the USA, who came to our villages, and gave English lessons to us. They were supported by the Peace Corps Armenia organization.
I was asking my mum why they came here. What was their purpose, for why they left America and came here to spent 2 years as a volunteers, without relatives and native environment.. Really it made no sense to me, because I was in my comfort zone with my parents, relatives. I had a completely different perception about volunteering.
I was in my comfort zone, and getting out from it seemed very hard and impossible. I was ready to get out from there only in one case: to have an overview and to benefit. Well, what do you think, what can be the perception of benefit for pupil. Of course, something which can help you to buy gifts for family. Whatever!
My perception about volunteering started changing one evening while watching TV with my family. It was a report about the Aurora awarding ceremony. It is the name, which occurred together with the term “volunteering”.
And what? Did I decide to be a volunteer at once? Of course not. To be a volunteer you need to have a willingness and enthusiasm for it. And of course you need to have a clear imagination and idea what volunteering is about. Probably you want to understand what I mean. Let’s figure out. I will separate some points of volunteering work, that I faced during my mission.
Do you know, that you don’t know yourself
Quite often you are skeptic about your skills and knowledge. You don’t believe, that you can do more. Or generally what does it mean to do more? That is one of the questions that appear during the volunteering work. And this is the work, that doesn’t love to be systematic, or scheduled, which doesn’t love standards. You are working now in some place, but tomorrow it can be a different place and so on.
Because you have a desire to be in more places, to get to know more cultures, to have experiences, which you can’t get by doing standard work, like in an office, or in the same places with the same people and with the same occupation. Even you don’t have to be many places just by space․ You can be in many places just by communicating with people from different countries. Each of them is new, brings new knowledge, new skills, a new worldview, a new culture. And to have a conversation with them a regular basis is thanks to volunteering.
Do you know, what pleasure it is to get and to give something just by yourself. Before I became an ESK volunteer I had no idea which kind of expectation I could have. Or what I can give to others. Before it I did the volunteering work in some news outlets, I did a social survey, and was a curator in summer camp, where I worked with different kids with different temperaments. But this experience is really different.
I didn't know myself. I was happy with my friends in my native environment. It seemed, that I knew myself well. But after ESK volunteering you figure out, that it is not as you think. And that’s the most inspirational thing about volunteering. It is self-recognition, that can be given to you. It immerses you in the different situation and lets you figure it out by yourself. It gives you different unusual situations and sayings.
- if you want to be a volunteer, just get ready to discover yourself regardless of will, because quite often it can be disappointing. And the only thing, that can disappoint you is that you discover your persistent character later, while you have an opportunity to do it earlier. And that is the sort of persistence which allows you to do more, to get and give more, to gather more, than you have.
If it will be necessary to compare volunteer with some animal, I will choose kangaroo, why?
Because you are jumping constantly. Even if you have a foot pain, you don’t care about it, you have a desire to just keep jumping. And with each jump you are appearing in a new situation․ And after each step you fill your sack with new knowledge like a mother- kangaroo, who carefully places her newborn baby-kangaroo in the sack. Though it is up to you, how greedy you will be, and how much your sack will be filled and how willing you will be to share your sack with others, to exchange your knowledge with them. Because sometimes you need to have free space for new things. It is necessary to give in order to get. Otherwise you will grow old so much, that it will not let you to move forward. And volunteering is like a kangaroo, who loves lightness․ Moreover, lightness is life.
And your kangaroo runs so fast that you can’t even look back, realize how rich you were on that seemingly long journey. Now I am like a young kangaroo who started to jump little by little. And in front of me there is a huge space, that is filled with lot’s of new skills, experiences and knowledges. Now in my sack I have friends,some little skills, small experiences and lots of free places with big desire. That’s what volunteering is about. It is one big field, where you need to find yourself. And those, who loves to jump and who doesn’t care for any hardship and just plays with it, and who is full of readiness, if you also have a bid and empty sack, that you would like to fill, if you also would like to find yourself and have a desire to share with goods of your sack,therefore it’s your turn. Don’t think about new shoes, a kangaroo is running barefoot without any shoes.It has a sack and willingness to have it full as a vital need.
Just take your sack and get out from the house of Miss Comfort. It’s your turn to be a volunteer. You have a lots of things to get, share and exchange with others. Don’t hurry up to estimate the result or benefit. You will catch this up. Just jump.
So I would like to finish my story with a fresh inspiration. Two days ago, I was at one youth exchange, where I had an opportunity to get to know about 30 personalities with different temperaments and from different countries. I enjoyed my time with them. And every time, in the end of the each youth exchange I receive a huge energy to be inspired and motivated in my work. So I am sharing my expression with you in front of the computer, but I would like to share that in real life too. Who knows, maybe we will meet one day.
Volunteer is an unpredictable creature. At the beginning of it you have one big empty hole, and then in the end of each day that hole fills up with a new color: that knowledge, inspiration, skills, new acquaintance, or just… news can be.
I am Nora from Armenia. I'm doing my ESC volunteering in CHANCE International in Berlin, Germany.
See you on the road!