My six-step volunteer experience.
Step one. Compassion. A good idea to start with, wanting to help someone who is in need. If that also makes me feel good – even better.
Step two. Volunteering. It seems like an ideal opportunity, and Volunteer Centre as an excellent platform. Call for volunteering with refugees – a great opportunity to productively use my knowledge, experience and time.
Step three. Minors. Far from home, surrounded by foreign language, yet willing to learn and to understand. As they learn the language they hear both words of support and words of disapproval. My hands are extended, offering help.
Step four. Firm grip. Faces full of gratitude. I am getting ready to pull hard, just to find out that these hands are not a burden.
Step five. Eyes opening. I’m not a saviour. I’m just a part of a net. We are progressing together. I am a teacher, but I am a student as well. I give, but I also receive.
Step six. Solidarity. Not compassion. For me, the difference between these words now symbolises the difference of worlds – are we giving charity, or are we empowering? Are we coming from a position of power, or are we tearing that position down?
Disclaimer: This story is shading a light into my own thought process and development during my time as a volunteer. It is not a universal six step guide. And my journey is not finished – there may as well be a step seven, eight etc. Every volunteer has his or her’s own experiences. But I do believe that volunteering is a two-way street. If you are open to new experiences, it can change you for the better.