“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I only truly appreciate this quote after I started volunteering.
While I was in college, I started off with tutoring Maths and English at an orphanage. At the first session, I was anxious and had doubts as I had never done anything like this before. The fact that I am a shy person does not help at all. I was tutoring four boys, which were around 13 years old. I soon realised that they were not at the academic level that they were supposed to be. What left a greater impression was, they were fighting over a file as only one of them had it. The boy who had the file broke into tears during the chaos.
I suddenly felt sad that they were fighting over something that seems so trivial to me but it was a luxury to them. I felt sorry that they were not getting the things that I have been taking for granted. I began appreciating more of what I had. Unfortunately, they also do not have much interest in academics and towards the end, they began drawing. It was a challenge for me to capture their interest. That was when I decided not merely to be a tutor, but I also tried to be a friend, in the hope of being able to motivate them to learn.
Session after session, I became more confident and gained courage to try something new. I have discovered what kind of person I want to be – I want to be grateful for whatever I have in life, be it nasty or wonderful. This sounds cliché but I have received more that I have given. Well, it is cliché because to some extent it is true. What I gave is merely my free weekends for a year but I have gained gratitude, which I will always carry with me. I became a happier person and this experience has shaped me into who I am today.
Since then I continued volunteering – including one project in Cambodia! In my first and second year, I was involved with Fun with Numbers. It was a great way to get out of the Warwick bubble and engage in the community. I am now in my final year and I am still volunteering.
If you have not volunteered before, don’t worry, do try volunteering! It is never too late. Perhaps you could start somewhere where your interest lies. What is your interest? Baking? Advising? Languages? Name it and most probably Warwick Volunteers will have a related project. For more information, check out http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/about/community/volunteers/volunteering/sign_up.
Happy volunteering! 🙂
Chia Ye, Media and Communication Cfficer