Education Outside: Volunteerism

By Nop Monineath, Seing Vantha and Yen Sosomphors

Have your ever heard the saying “education is not just about going to school”? Education refers to the process of receiving or giving knowledge, skills necessary for a person to become a productive member of society.

Getting an education does not mean simply sitting in the classroom, being attentive to the teacher and waiting for a nerve-wracking final examination. Education can come from numerous sources, as long as the transmission of knowledge is possible. One of the great sources of education is volunteerism. Voluntary work is any work that you undertake based on your own free will, without any act of force and payment.

So, why is volunteerism important? The main purpose of volunteerism is not financial reward, but it is simply getting yourself involved in improving your community. While offering your contributions, you also “learn” something new and obtain better experience which, no doubt, would expand your horizons and develop your existing skills–social, teamwork, leadership, etc. It sounds like killing two birds with one stone, doesn’t it?

Youth volunteers working together to removing the remnants of old picnic tables in Mount Rainier national park, US. © Mount Rainier National Park / 2013 / licensed under CC BY 2.0

For young people, especially when we have other important responsibilities to shoulder, such as schooling, it is pretty difficult to spare time for other valuable activities. Incorporating them into our hectic schedules may cause imbalance and poor performance between commitments. If you are going to take part in extracurricular activities, it is a crucial to know how to make both school and voluntary work go hand in hand so that you can achieve meaningful goals.

We should make a well thought-out decision when choosing the type of voluntary work that is worth the amount of time spent and will produce a desired outcome at the same time.

How do you do it?

  1. Ask yourself what your passion is;
  2. Seize the volunteer opportunity that goes well with this. This will avoid any time being wasted.

Choosing to work for a cause you are passionate about will no doubt contribute to your motivation to give a helping hand to the community.

As mentioned earlier, the best reward of volunteerism is that you learn something. Volunteers can reflect on their contributions and lesson they have learnt from their experiences, and this will add to their existing knowledge. This also enables them to measure success and understand what it takes to volunteer effectively.

“Action Heroes” working on cleaning at the 600-acre St. James Farm in Warrenville, Illanois, USA. ©COD Newsroom / 2014 /Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Balancing both school and voluntary work can be quite challenging. But at the end of the day it is about making the commitment. If you are determined to accomplish the goals of your voluntary work then give it a hundred percent. Pour your blood, sweat and tears into it. It is always nice to see all our hard work truly make a big impact on other people’s lives. Ace your grades and be an effective volunteer to help your community.

When volunteering, it’s also like a process of improving yourself.

Volunteering will teach you a lot of new things. Many people chose to volunteer in roles that are related to their study and career. This means that they have the chance to learn and practice certain skills outside the class, which they can keep throughout their life and apply in the future.

For instance, if you are interested in fundraising and sponsorship, you could volunteering for sponsorship team. There you would learn to write a proposal to ask for sponsorship or donations. It means that you are improving your writing skills, persuading skills, and are well prepared to do this in other roles in the future. You would become more familiar with solving problems because of the challenges that you have faced during your volunteer work experience. Plus, you will get to know a lot of people, so it’s a good opportunity for you to build your network.

Other positives of volunteering are that you will get advice from and exchange ideas with your team members. Moreover, the experience can also build and improve your ability to work in a team and be a leader. Therefore, you can change yourself to become stronger and a more open-minded person. Becoming involved in a volunteer role will help you see the world from a different angle.

In Cambodian society, rural areas and the countryside particularly benefit from the help of volunteers. Many places in these areas need teachers, new schools, school supplies and well-equipped and well-facilitated classrooms. So if you were a volunteer, you could help them by raising the money for charity. Also, you can go and teach them when you are on vacation or maybe spare your time with them for 1 or 2h per week. For old people who don’t have family, they need someone to talk to and they need to communicate with people, especially with people who had mental illness or are disabled. You could encourage them and advise them on how to remain positively involved in society.

© Vait_mcright / 2014 / licensed under CC0

Volunteerism brings about huge advantages for us and our community. We all need to remember that education takes place not only in our classroom but also in our community, which is where we obtain a first-hand experience in self and community improvement through our own effort.

Youth, the most important pillar of this society, shall take a careful look at these selfless acts; everyone should consider putting them on your list of priorities. We, young people, can set a great example for the future generations and inspire them to put their time and passion to good use. Our job is to plant seeds of volunteerism in youth, water them with encouragement, and see them grow as a well-rounded individual in society.

Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.

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