Sunday, December 05, 2010

Make a Difference: “Inspiring the Volunteer in You”

December 5th marks yet another exciting International Volunteer Day (IVD). This year’s IVD is very significant because it marks the launch of the 10th anniversary of the 2001 International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10). IYV+10 will be an opportunity for people all around the world to join a global effort to reinvigorate the spirit of volunteerism. In the words of Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers “Let us embrace the theme of ‘Volunteering for the MDGs’ as our own way to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism on 5 December [2010].”

There are many ways for young people to get involved. But it is crucial to keep in mind that whatever platform you decide to serve on must be a process of service learning. That is, your volunteering must be a process of learning too. “Service Learning is a powerful means of engaging young people in tackling development challenges…Student volunteers gain opportunities to act on their learning, develop important skills and experience first-hand the feeling of having made a positive difference.” (Resources for rethinking). As you give of your time and skills in service to community development and achievement of the MDGs, ensure you are learning a lot in return. Volunteers are not paid, but they grow as they give.

Why volunteer now and not until after you retire in your 70s? “Volunteerism is a source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It can bring positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality and the participation of all. It is among society’s most vital assets.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. You will not only help make a difference in the lives of others, you will make a whole lot of difference in your life too! Volunteering (service) is like a first-step to greatness.

Identify an issue you are very passionate about. Empower yourself with the right information about the issue- if possible, an up-to-the minute research on the issue. Think solution! Define the kind of action you want to take, the resources you’ll need and the expected outcome/impact. Keep in mind; the issue that you are passionate about can be personal, local, national or global. Build a synergy with existing structures and people working on the issue… collaborating is an effective way of bringing about profound change. If no one is doing what you want to do, then maybe it is your responsibility to blaze the trail…but ensure to carry others along in your action plan!

"My suggestion is to become a doer instead of just a hearer. And things can be done. A doer hears and accepts the need for action, working towards the common goal of the people and their concerns." Young Canadian participant, Voices of Youth online chat, Nov 2002.

Other sources to explore:

No comments: