Being a volunteer is not just about helping others, but also being fully engaged in an activity. Volunteering has a unique ability to make participants involve their hearts, bodies, and minds. Most people say they live busy lives and that it is hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are as beneficial to the participant as they are to the community.
Finding the right place to volunteer can help you find friends, empower a community, learn new skills, and benefit your career. Here are the benefits I experienced through volunteer work:
Volunteering Opens Your Mind
For me, it was an enriching experience to spend time with children as they learned, played, and interacted with each other. Having the opportunity to spend an entire morning with a class of pre-kindergarten children was definitely eye opening. I discovered that four- and five-year-old children are capable of having very thoughtful conversations; they are constantly observing, listening, and learning from the world around them.
You Learn New Skills
While volunteering at a local private school, I learned a series of new skills. I put into practice what I learned in school about personal responsibility and the idea that human beings choose their own actions. In a world of limits, we will always encounter negativity, pessimism, and discouragement. Nevertheless, it is important to help give back and create positive change. I could have just seen volunteering as a challenge because English is not my first language, however, I made the decision to be a volunteer and learn as much as I could from it.
You Develop Critical Thinking Abilities
I meditated on what I learned from the book The Art of Thinking, by Vincent Ruggiero. Volunteering at a school where many things were happening was overwhelming at times, so I had to be sure I kept a positive outlook. I also engaged in critical thinking and problem-solving skills when tensions arose. For instance, I dealt with a child who presented behavioral issues which was challenging for me because I am not a teacher or a psychologist. However, I was able to develop systematic processes in the analysis of this type of situation and help the child with his abilities to learn and interact with his classmates. I am happy to say that it worked—during reading time, he participated in the question and answer session.
I encourage everyone interested in having new experiences to explore volunteer opportunities. You do not have to go far to make a difference in the lives of others. You can start in your own community—there will always be a school, nursery, religious organization, retirement home, food pantry, or charity organization waiting for people like you to help out. This volunteer project I participated in was definitely inspiring and will always remain one of my favorite experiences from my studies.