Guest Post from Nicole: Inspiration to Keep Volunteering

This is Zapoura writing!  As promised, this blog will feature guest writers throughout the year.  Nicole’s post is really inspirational and makes the connection between volunteering and career preparation in addition to talking about the personal experience of working with kids.  I hope this will motivate you (as it does me) to find ways to work in the community no matter how busy.  

Note: Nicole is currently abroad, so she has asked me to post this in her name.  Please feel free to ask Nicole any questions about her experiences or to comment on your own continued volunteer work if that’s something you’ve chosen to do!  See her words below:

My name is Nicole and I just graduated from PSU with my B.A. in English. With my degree I intend to go into secondary-school teaching and am currently in the process of applying for Teach for America.

I took a community-based learning course with Zapoura in Fall of 2010. Throughout the course, the class volunteered over at the University Park Community Center in North Portland with kids aged K-5. It was a very rewarding experience for me and I’m writing to you to possibly provide some insight into the volunteer work you will be embarking on.

To begin, I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that, up until I took this course, I had never offered myself as a volunteer…anywhere. I like to believe that it was because I didn’t have enough time due to school and work, but, in all honesty, it’s because:

  1. I was a bit unmotivated and entirely lethargic; and,
  2. I had no idea how absolutely beneficial long-term volunteering could be on my personal and professional life.

Working with the kids at the community center was very eye opening for me; I was completely blown away with the connections I made with my students over the course of three months. I worked with two female fifth graders who, as spunky and crazy as they were, were very insightful and dedicated to their schoolwork. It was a sincerely sad goodbye when I left at the end of the term to study abroad.

Upon returning from my time abroad, I was inspired to continue my volunteer work and I have secured a long-term volunteer position over at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.  I’m a teacher assistant for the onsite classroom in the Hematology/Oncology unit. It’s quite the experience; and it’s amazing the connections you can make with students as a result of your “volunteer” status. In my personal experience, the students feel as if they can open up to you on a more personal level than their full-time teachers and staff members. I like to think it’s because I am there of my own free will, giving them the time they deserve, without the weight of the job influencing how I act.

Anyways, I’d like to sum it up here by saying that I hope the volunteer work you do will have the same type of influence on you as it did for me. I am humbled and proud of the time I spend volunteering, and hopefully it will provide the extra push my resume needs to score a job with Teach for America!

Have fun, and enjoy!

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