By Marilena Kagkaraki,
In a world where all we hear is bad news and negativity on a daily basis -especially in a year like 2020- I would like to remind you of one of things that bring forward kindness and positivity. Let us talk about volunteering. I personally have volunteered on a full-time basis for three years, while I was at university and went abroad on volunteering exchanges as well. The easiest way to put it is, I would not be the person I am today if I had not done this. But, why should I volunteer, you ask me? Here are five reasons why you should and what it has taught me.
- You face a different reality
Usually when you volunteer, the point is to go to places and provide any services or goods to people, who lack necessities. That means, you go to places and you talk to people you would not otherwise cross paths with. In other words, you see and you learn things about other people and their lives that you would not normally get to know. Hence, you look at how the world works and what is the reality outside of your everyday life bubble, which may not always be pleasant.
- You meet new people
Volunteering means you are interactive within a community. It means you want to be part of it and help the people within it improve their lives. In that sense you meet the people there, you listen to their stories and how they are managing life. At the same time, you meet other volunteers who have the same purpose there and a great story to tell. It is a great opportunity to open up and be sociable for a great cause.
- A chance to travel
There are so many opportunities abroad with so many great organisations that do great work helping people and communities. You could volunteer at the same city you live in or another one. However, it can also be across the ocean, while exploring far away lands, engaging into a cultural trip. Not only do you help the community, but you also learn from locals what is the reality and the culture in different countries.
- You gain perspective
Similar to traveling, volunteering can have the same effect. You see how other communities work and how they live their life. It gives you a clear new mindset that the things you have and do are not always set and stone and that you do not have to live this exact way. Then, you start questioning about what really matters and what is that you really want in life outside of societal norms and what a classic city-life would require. In other words, you increase your self-awareness and own up to who you really are.
- You grow as a person
If you are open to change and you want to learn more about the world and its people, then volunteering cannot leave you untouched. Hearing other people’s life stories, leaves you with gratitude, sometimes confused. However, it mostly leaves you inspired. People even if they face hardships, they make it through. What matters the most is the people you surround with and being humble with whatever you are given. This is what changes you.
You live those experiences with a sense of questioning how often do people go on with their busy life and take things for granted, forgetting to call their loved ones or appreciate a house and a bed. It is those experiences that remind you of the true meaning of life, to be bold and give love and help to the people around you. University years do not have to be just studying or partying, but they can have a meaningful impact to you and to those around you, with volunteering, either locally or abroad. After all, the world belongs to the brave.