All the Feels (by Guest Blogger Lisa Cha)

 zombzIt’s a sad thing to say that the only reason I took to volunteering was because of a class I’m taking or because I had an agenda: more service hours looks like I am more conscious about the world around me on an application. But I feel like I’m not the only one who is feeling this; I am pretty sure that there are a lot of student volunteers out there who are only doing it because of a school-related requirement. And even though it’s a good thing that people are out there volunteering and helping, it’s also a little sad and disappointing knowing that after they’ve worked their hours that they’re going to be gone. Now, I’m not going to say that I promise to go back to James John Elementary and volunteer after this capstone is done but just even realizing that is so sad to me. I mean, this was a neighborhood and a school that I grew up in, I know these people, I know how awesome it felt having people to help me and work with me after school. And even though volunteering there now has been great and nostalgic for me, I am uncertain about my future availability to go back. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard for people to go out in their community and help out: time.

Making Time for Community Work?

I understand that it’s hard when you have a full class schedule, work, a family to take care of, and other things, which would make it very difficult to find time to help out complete strangers. But what some people have to realize, and what I’ve realized, is that, even just the smallest amount of time you can devote, makes the biggest impact for some people. You might not impact everybody but the ones that you will, will be grateful whether they directly tell you or not. And if you’re worried about what kind of programs to volunteer for, you’d be surprised at all the different kinds of things that you can help with. From helping with students afterschool with homework and sports, with adults learning how to use computers, rock-climbing programs, etc., there are a lot of things that you can and will find interest in to help with.

Returning the Favor & Feeling Hopeful

For me, I would more likely aim towards volunteering in programs involving minority groups and language-related topics; such as, English-learning, reading, studying for the GED or with homework, and work-related things. I have no preference for working with children or with adults or a combination of both because, from my experience, these kinds of programs usually involves both, so I am used to seeing parent and child(ren) together. These programs appeal to me, not only because they seem to always need volunteers, but because I was in those situations: struggling with English, and reading and writing, which lead to struggling with communicating with my teachers and peers. I want to help because I’ve been there, and there was someone there to help me. So basically, I want to return the favor. Plus, I feel like it’s a good thing having someone there who has been through it all, who’s made it; it just gives a glimpse of hope for the person who is struggling.



11 thoughts on “All the Feels (by Guest Blogger Lisa Cha)

  1. Lisa, I think that it is awesome that you have decided to return to James John after this class, especially since it is a community that you grew up in and want to continue to support. I agree that it is often hard to make time to volunteer due to work and busy schedules, but I found that even during my most hectic time with my classes two years ago it became quite relaxing for me to volunteer a couple hours a week at a nearby animal rescue. It’s a good (and much needed) mental break. I think most people just doubt their abilities to help and making time commitments.

  2. I completely agree with you. I find what you wrote honest and touching. How many people can you think of that volunteer just out of the goodness of their own heart and not because it’s for a class or to look good on a resume? I found myself thinking the same thing this week as it is week 5 and half way through the term. Will I find a way to try and stay volunteering at James John? I was skeptical at the beginning of the term and worried about not being able to build bonds with the students in such a short amount of time. Now I’m still worried, but not because bonds have not been made, they have! I’m worried now because there are only a few weeks left and I’m sad to see it end. Can I promise I’ll return though? I can’t say. I don’t think you’ll meet many college students (or people in general) who have classes and work that say they have many free chunks of time. If we really understood the benefits of these programs and really enjoyed working with them, wouldn’t we make it a priority to find time in our schedule? I wonder if kids should be exposed to volunteer work more when they are growing up? The only times I remember volunteering was for a class in school. I wonder if kids were brought up with more experience volunteering that wasn’t related to school if they would grow up being more willing to volunteer on their own?

    • I definitely see the power in having kids be more involved in volunteer work as they grow up; not only academically but socially. Volunteering can help a child be more open to the world around them and teach them things that they wouldn’t learn in a classroom. But I do think that this aspect of a child’s life, in regards to education, isn’t or doesn’t seem important until the last stages of high school where the kids’ have to learn to be adults and work in the real world. From my personal experience and what my friends have told me, I never saw the importance of volunteering until my last 1.5 years of high school when all the teachers and counselors were saying “you need to go volunteer, it will look good on your college application,” or “get to see how the real world works or else you won’t survive after graduating.” And from that point and onwards, volunteering became sort of a chore:you do it to do it because you need it done. So, I think that definitely having students, at a young age, start volunteering or helping out, will definitely change their mindset about volunteering, which could in turn make them want to do it on their own instead of as an assignment.

      • I think it would be wonderful to have kids become more involved in volunteering at a younger age, whether it be by parents taking the initiative and volunteering with their child or being a part of the classroom or after school program at school. I could see classrooms making smaller commitments with their students to introduce them to the idea of volunteering and even working lesson plans around it. I agree with Lisa in that I never really volunteered until my last 2 years in high school, which I kind of resented only because it was mandatory to graduate (but I ended up really enjoying it). If it was something introduced earlier, I probably would have been less teen-angsty about getting involved. I think part of it has to do with your original posting and people not realizing that there are so many different programs to be a part of.

  3. If there was a substantial increase in the number of long-term volunteers in schools across the nation, what kind of message would that send to the government? Imagine if policy makers dealing with public education take as a given that volunteers will be there… what would that do? This is a sort of double-edged sword, isn’t it? On the one thing it is great that some people are willing to get out of their private (often petty) dramas and engage with other real people, with real problems. But as taxpayers I guess volunteers would like to see things improve substantially, in such a way that the need for volunteering would diminish. So what would happen if the people making the decisions affecting the quality of schools would rely on dreaming, hard-working, well-meaning volunteers like us?

    It’s something to think about.

  4. Lisa, I think this is a great topic and definitely an important one for people to be thinking about. Volunteering is so vital to programs, such as the one’s we are involved in currently. You’re right about some people only doing it to meet their hours and I think that’s a great start. Getting your foot in the door can really open up opportunities for people and make them keep coming back. I’m a huge fan of volunteering and it is so exciting to see the positive impact you can have on people, or even just one person. It is so inspiring to know that you can make a difference in someone’s life just by giving them some of your time. Hopefully more people will feel inspired to give back some of their time because of your post!

  5. Every time we volunteer we leave a piece of ourselves with those who we spent the time with. I have always enjoyed volunteering, the problem is life. Managing life and all the items entailing that, is difficult, and when issues arise letting the students down because life’s responsibilities, it huts the volunteers and students. This is why I think our society should be progressive when people volunteer. Work should allow people who chose to volunteer time off. If we could reshape our policy to either mandate this, or help convince employers to do it voluntarily I wonder if we would change our society in a rapid fashion.

  6. I think what you pointed out is probably true for a good number of people, but it’s not necessarily bad or sad. Volunteering may be done at first out of obligation or for selfish reasons, but usually after a person has volunteered for a while they want to keep doing it. I think that is an awesome thing. Over time the joy of volunteering and helping others tends to over power any previous feelings. I think you, Lisa, are an excellent example of someone who wants to volunteer because you want to volunteer and understand the impact it can have. Yes, time is a big issue. I would also suggest that a lack of awareness is a big part of the lack of volunteers in schools today. As people get older, they forget about school. As their kids get older, they forget about school too. I’ve noticed when I’ve volunteered at schools in the past the people who volunteer tend to be people who have a connection to schools. Parents of school aged kids, grand parents of students, retired teachers, and those interested in becoming teachers are the people I think of as making up the majority of school volunteer base. I’m sure others who don’t fit these criteria volunteer as well, but those who have more invested in something tend to care about it more. If there were a way to show others that schools are important and do eventually affect them personally in the society they live in, they would be more willing to volunteer. I think our Capstone classes try to do just that. I think you’ve opened up a great discussion.

  7. Lisa,
    I find it odd that it is so hard for people to find time to participate in community based projects. I think that part of the reason is that there is not enough people advocating for people to get involved. Take PYB where I volunteer once a week (course mandated, but I am really enjoying it), I am bummed out that at no point during my three years at PSU that there was never a advocate from PYB (or any other program for that matter) until the last term of my final year at PSU. I would have made time if I would have known that there was an option for me to give time to students that could use my knowledge of mathematics. Organizations need to dedicate some resources to put people out in the communities spreading awareness and illustrating where people could help when they could.

  8. This is super awesome. I love the honesty here. I think it’s important for people to share how they feel and not just what they think they should be feeling. I feel like I’m in the same shoes as however I want to teach English in high school and college and I thought that this Capstone would be a great experience and perhaps something to put on my resume! My problem is that while I am establishing some connections to some people in the school, I am not connected to the area at all (Park Rose). I feel quite displaced and it’s hard. I don’t know if I’ll end up there or not again someday. But presently, I can say that it doesn’t look like I will which is why I’m trying to do the best that I can to make an impact while I am there with the little time that I do have to spare while taking two other classes.

  9. Lisa, i absolutely agree with you. You are right, and i bet that most people that volunteer are either doing it because of school, or their transcript, or maybe even because they have to do community service hours. And though you are right that it is sad that people aren’t just doing it because it is the right thing to do but because for something they get out of it, we stil need to remember that something good is coming out of it. I’ve met a lot of people who started volunteering because it was something that was required of them, but then they continued doing it because they were touched by what they were doing and felt that they were making a difference. And though we all may have selfish reasons for volunteering, we’re still making an impact on the lives of people who really need the help right now. I know exactly where you are coming from, but at the same time you can look at the good that comes out of this also.

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