Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reflective Essay on Volunteering

Volunteering has changed my life forever. I have often heard people talk about the benefits of volunteering, of it being a way to reach out and touch the lives of others in a positive way. But I didn’t fully understand the impact of that claim until I started to volunteer myself. I started volunteering in my last year of high school so that I would have something to add to my university applications. At first, I would just be a helping hand in local community events, such as bake sales and food drives. But then, I was asked to help organize an after-school program for children. This changed my life forever.

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Everyday after school, children from the local community would arrive at the mosque where volunteers like myself would plan activities for them until they were ready to be picked up by their parents. For the most part these children came from low-income families, whose parents could not afford expensive day care facilities. We would help the children with their homework, take them to the park, and organize various games for them. The kids responded well to the program, and slowly I started to develop a bond with them. The more I worked with them, the more I realized how much I loved them. Many of these kids did not have the luxury of taking swimming, soccer or karate lessons like other children their age; and because I knew that myself and another volunteer were fully accredited lifeguards, while two other volunteers played on their university soccer teams, I initiated a plan. I would teach the kids how to swim, while the others would help them form a mini soccer league.

But little did I know that while I was teaching these kids how to swim, they would also be teaching me things. Every time a child was scared to get into the water, they taught me patience. Every time, a child got scared and held on to me, it taught me that they depended on me, that I was important in their life, and every time they accomplished a task with success it gave me a sense of accomplishment. But most importantly, they taught me to give.

Volunteering my time to teach swimming lessons was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It taught me that money will never be my motivation for working, that motivation for me will only come when I know I can make a difference in another person’s life.

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