Contributing to social change
Marie is a Glasswing volunteer who led a Communications Club at one of our Community Schools in Guatemala. She recently wrote about her experience as a volunteer on her personal blog. Read below to see how volunteering has allowed Marie to fulfill her goals.
Throughout my adolescence I dreamed of being in a school, not as a full-time teacher since I don’t think I have the patience, but to teach English or extracurricular activities. I often dreamed that I was back in elementary school working on projects but I did not know how I could do that if I wasn’t a teacher and had just graduated from high school.
Everything changed when, one day, I walked past a volunteer fair. I spoke with a few of the organization representatives but I decided to keep looking at other options. I felt that many of the groups strayed from their vision and mission to become a social group. Then a few school photographs caught my eye. I stopped to listen to Glasswing International’s representative and after hearing them talk I immediately signed up as a volunteer. From that experience, I found a way to do what I’d wanted to do for so long.
Contributing to social change through Glasswing, a non-profit organization, has been one of the best experiences of life. By helping others, I am also helping myself. This is in addition to fulfilling my life mission: “being an engine of positive influence.”
This year, I was a volunteer educator at República de Uruguay, a public school close to where I live. I had the opportunity to spend one hour a week with my group of students where we were able to create friendships and reinforce their communication skills through activities that helped them strengthen their creativity, imagination, and verbal skills.
The experience was incredible. Although I have to admit that there were few times that I couldn’t complete all of the session objectives because the children’s behavior and fatigue prevented them from concentrating on the day’s activities.
Spending time with children to help them with their assignments and strengthen skills they don’t normally learn in the classroom after five hours of a traditional school day is complicated. The traditional education system has yet to adapt to this generation’s interests and needs. All this despite the sobering reality that these children are in a privileged situation – their school has access to drinking water, adequate facilities with enough space for recreational activities, and their teachers care about them and are committed to their education.
Each child’s situation is different and each one’s behavior likely reflects the situations they go through outside of school. Their restlessness, occasional use of inappropriate words, discriminatory insults, and other improper behaviors are some examples.
As a volunteer educator, whenever I see inappropriate behavior in the classroom, I ask my students: ‘‘why do you treat each other this way? Would you like to be treated that way?’’ When they answer ‘‘no,’’ their mindset slowly starts to change as they realize that they shouldn’t behave in that manner.
The purpose of volunteering is to help students in their personal development so that they can learn in a healthy, safe environment in spite of the hardships they face. The programs the students participate have the potential to turn negative situations into positive ones and help students develop into leaders. All of this and more based on activities that they are interested in after their regular school days.
The experience was truly rewarding. We created art with watercolors, crayons, paint. The students stained their shirts with art supplies. They created comic strips. They corrected words with spelling mistakes. They explored the dictionary and realized that they had many spelling mistakes, but it was a learning process for us all. We did a lot of things together that I would love to do again.
Nobody forced me to become a volunteer, I joined because it gives my life meaning. I cannot guarantee that my students will learn new things, but I can say that we’ll learn from each other. Working for others is worth it!
I encourage everyone to seek volunteer experiences that are aligned to your values and can propel you to fulfill your mission in life.
‘‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ’’
– Martin Luther King