Yes, volunteering is a selfless deed that is meant to make someone else better off; but it definitely has something in return for you. The returns are intangible but definitely lasting. That sense of direction, realisation or even inspiration gained is priceless and may steer your life down an entirely different path. This is exactly what happened to Anna Cusack, a Law student at UC who worked with families in Malawi earlier this year.
As one of five youth ambassadors for World Vision, Anna visited Malawi to attend the 40 hour famine annual fundraiser. This opportunity has left her with a sense of professional direction as she is seeking to carry out international aid and diplomacy work when she finishes her degree.
In her interview, she makes a thought provoking statement that “an awesome aspect to studying law at Canterbury is a real focus on giving back to the community. The law department is to make it compulsory to do a certain number of service hours helping in the community before completing a degree.” Personally, I think this should be adopted by every department. In today’s world, where only the best survive, we often forget to help the ones lagging behind and in need and often forget to appreciate the simple things in life.
A university degree is meant to be holistic and making volunteering a requirement only enhances the intangible quality of the degree. The experiences, stories and reflections learnt and experienced only leave us as a better person. From personal experience, I can say that volunteering, especially for the things you care about, really does give you a sense of who you are and makes you realise what you stand for and where you come from. There’s just something about going out there and trying that gives you this sense of satisfaction and sudden can-do attitude and strength.
Start small, explore your options and find what you love. Trust me, it’s out there, you just need to be patient and open minded to find it .If you don’t know where to start or lack motivation and focus or are just looking for some support to get started, join one of the many volunteering clubs on campus. Some of the biggest and most well-known are of course the Student Volunteer Army, UC Red and 180 Degrees consulting for example. Here’s the link of the clubs on campus, if you’re keen to explore your options: http://ucsa.org.nz/clubs/
Volunteering not only enhances your personality and enriches your life, but also looks great on your C.V. So, get out of your shell, try new things, advocate what you stand for and get on with making a difference.