Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Often-Unseen Benefits of Volunteering

The Often-Unseen Benefits of Volunteering
By Jacqueline Zarzoza
Student Ambassador, University of Indianapolis

Being a volunteer is not just about helping others, but also about being fully engaged in an activity. Volunteering has that unique power of making the participants involve their hearts, bodies, and souls. Most people say that they live very busy lives and that it’s hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are as great to you as they are to your community.

Finding the right place to volunteer can help you find friends, empower a community, learn new skills, and is incredibly beneficial to any career. For instance, it is an enriching experience to spend time with children as they learn, play, and interact with each other. Through a volunteer activity with children, you will learn that they are very active by nature. Having the opportunity to spend an entire morning with a class of pre-kindergarten children was eye opening for me. Many might think that four- and five-year-old children are all about playing and having fun; what some people may not know is that they are also capable of having very thoughtful conversations. In fact, they are observing, listening, and learning from everything that surrounds them.

While volunteering at a local private school, I learned a series of new skills. I put into practice what I have learned about personal responsibility and the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. In a world of limits such as the one we live in, we will always encounter negativity, pessimism, and discouragement. Nevertheless, we could make the decision to become involved in a difficult situation, especially in order to help and create a change. I could have said that volunteering at a school was 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.

I also meditated on what I have learned from The Art of Thinking, a fabulous book by Vincent Ruggiero. Being at a school where many things are happening at the same time can be overwhelming if not viewed from the right perspective. Engaging critical thinking skills in problem solving is a key when tensions rise. For instance, dealing with a child who presents behavioral issues can be challenging for people like me, because I am not a teacher or a psychologist. However, I was able to develop systematic processes in the analysis of this situation. I was determined to help this 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 volunteering opportunities. You don’t have to go far to make a difference in someone’s life. 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 and me to give our best and change people’s lives. This volunteer project was definitely inspiring and powerful and will always remain one of my favorite experiences.
Jacqueline Zarzoza, originally from Lima, Peru, is currently pursuing a degree in Liberal Studies at the University of Indianapolis, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is expected to graduate in May 2016.

1 comment:

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