Service Learning Projects I Went Through as a Volunteer

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

  • Preparation
  • Meeting
  • Introduction
  • Beginning
  • Intermission
  • Chaos
  • Wrap up
  • Separation
  • Interview

For my service-learning assignment, I have decided to choose option 2. I am going to focus on the mass causality as a single volunteer experience. Although for the interview I chose to focus on the simulations in general. Through out this paper I am going to break down the events of that day and analyze them one by one. In order to do this, I have broken down the day as follows:


This takes place before the volunteer experience began. I’m at home, it’s morning and I’m thinking of what I need to do, to be prepared for the day. This section has me focusing on my own needs. Borrowing from Maslow’s hierarchy, I’m looking at things like my physical needs, and my safety needs. This is basic stuff, but also hard because there wasn’t a lot of communication from the organizers of the event. I know that there will be food, but I don’t know when. I’m bringing my camera, and I won’t always need it. So I have to think about the security of my belongings. Will there be a locked room? The point here is that for me to be able to be a good volunteer, I need my own needs to be taken care of first. But with the lack of communication, something that I will talk about a lot, it’s hard to take care of myself. So I don’t know if I am going to be able to be a good volunteer and this created a lot of initial stress for me.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

Looking back, I could have asked for this information ahead of time. But I didn’t because I assumed that it would be given to me. After all this was a big event, and I assumed that with a lot of people asking the same types of questions, that there would have been a big email sent out to let people know about this stuff. This was fact inference confusion on my part. But I can’t help but wonder if it also existed on the other side, and the organizers simple assumed that if anyone had questions, that they would ask them.


I have arrived at the college. First things first are my own physical needs, and with physical needs being at the bottom of the pyramid. They feel like they are something that we can never stop thinking of. In this case it means Tim Horton’s. On my way there, from a distance I saw a unit clerk going up the center core stairs. I was too far away to call out without making a scene, so I decided to use another method of communication. After all, we have cell phones for a reason. I got in line at Tim’s and saw that she had already texted me asking if I had arrived. I invited her to Tim’s and then saw that another unit clerk had also messaged me. I told her where I was as well. Here I was addressing my social needs. I was there to work but I also wanted to talk to my friends. One joined me but the other chose to stay where she was, which was in the library. Coffee in hand the two of us sought out instruction. Since we had yet to receive communication on where we needed to go, or what to do.

We ran into some of the organizers and they took us upstairs to the SPHERE lab area to get instruction. The unit clerk who had stayed in the library was a part of what we needed to do so I messaged her to join us. She didn’t, so I chose a more forceful method of communication and called her, verbally asking her to join us. And she finally did. I’m not sure why it was so hard to get her to meet with us. But by the time that she did, I had more pressing concerns to worry about and didn’t ask.


I’ve chosen to call this section “introduction” because with the three of us together we were finally being introduced to the big picture of what we were going to do. We had a general idea, but now with face to face time with the organizers we were able to effectively communicate with them, and them with us. I felt like this should have happened before this moment. As this was very last minute and everyone was busy. But as I mentioned earlier, there was a real lack of communication. I didn’t understand why that was at this point. But I think I figured it out later on.

There was a brief talk about what was going to happen throughout the day. Where we needed to be and when we needed to be there. But not so much what we were going to be doing. Because I was doing double duty, taking pictures and then working as a unit clerk. I was asked to head down to the Moulage area to get started with photography.


From here for the next two hours, I didn’t communicate a lot. I was in the moulage area and somewhat in the cave taking pictures as I was asked to. Although I did get to observe a lot of communication between people. There was quite a bit of confusion as to where people were supposed to be. Or what they were supposed to be doing, or even where they were allowed to be. This was mostly verbal communication on the part of the sender and non verbal on the part of the receiver by ways of shoulder shrugging or hand gestures. I found that other people had the same confusion that I had experienced earlier on. They didn’t really know what they should be doing. So from this I gathered that there wasn’t anything in the way of effective communication from the organizers. Yet it still worked, people were asking other people what they were supposed to be doing. And information was being passed on. I found that some of it was factual information. Some of it was assumed where people used past experiences to make decisions.

I also noticed a lack of training on the part of some people when applying makeup for injuries. But they would communicate that to other people who would then step in to help. There was also some obvious noise that was interfering with communications. This was environmental noise in the form of heat. It was hot in that moulage room and you could tell that it was bothering people. Tempers would run short and from time to time someone would stand up and kick out the people who didn’t need to be there. There was other types of noise as well such as the volume of conversation making it hard to hear people. And with the amount of people walking around it was hard to carry on a conversation with someone across a room as you couldn’t see them. And with a large part of communication being nonverbal, if you couldn’t hear them or see them. You simply couldn’t communicate with them.


After taking pictures for a while I decided that it was time to eat. More of Maslow’s needs… there isn’t a lot to be said here. Except that I did get to observe other people interacting without looking down the lens of a camera. In the cave area I could see the different groups gather together. Most of them weren’t even discussing the event that was coming up. It was more idle chit chat than anything. I wonder if that was because they knew what they had to do, or did they not care? I did notice a group of nursing students getting a prep talk from a nurse. She was going over how to handle a stressful situation. She was very effective in her communication, giving the students only the facts that they needed and ignoring everything else that might serve as distraction. I had hoped that a lot of my training would be like this. But I haven’t found it to be. I envied those students in that situation. While it was stressful, they had someone who was overlooking them and helping them directly with exactly what they needed. So far I haven’t received that. With my food eaten and my own psychological noise(hunger) diminished. I went back to taking pictures. With more people gathered I was able to switch it up from pictures of injuries developing, to group shots of people with their friends.


It was nearing 1:00pm and the event was starting. The large group of volunteers in the cave was directed to head to the room for the main event. I was not going to be joining them as it was time to stop being a photographer and become a unit clerk. Arriving at the first room, set up as a hospital ward, I found one of the other unit clerks. She was in full blown panic mode. I listened to her as she explained the directions that she had received. She said to me that she felt like it was going to be a disaster. I retorted by stating that she should focus on one thing at a time. And to ask for help if she felt like she needed it. I didn’t say it to her directly, but I was trying to help her avoid becoming a self-imposed prophecy. She calmed down a little bit and I went to the other room where the other unit clerk was stationed. There were three of us for two rooms. And I was going to switch from room to room as the situation warranted. The other unit clerk was also in a full blown panic mode. Again, a self fulling prophecy was about to happen so I did what I could to calm her down. Mostly it was in the form of distraction to take her mind off of what was bothering her. I knew that she was going to be fine, it was the anticipation of what was to come that was giving her anxiety. Or at least that was what I was able to gather from her. With her mind off the impending doom she calmed down enough that she could focus on what needed to be done.

It was at this point that the first patients first began to show up and things really broke down. It was our jobs as unit clerks to enter patient information into charts and the computer so that the nurses could access it. However, the nurses simply took the information and ran with it. So, we as unit clerks didn’t have our main task to do. Because of this, we mostly just sat there and did nothing. There were a few moments where a visitor would come to us looking for a patient. This was pretty easy for us to do. But getting that visitor to a patient was next to impossible. Not that it was necessary to connect them, but it was easy to see that the nurses were dealing with a message overload situation. They were trying to do everything at once, instead of dealing with one thing at a time. Because of this we would tell the visitors that they would have to wait. Which was frustrating because in real life, I would have no issue telling the police that they may need to wait a few hours and to simply leave their name and phone number for us to call when a patient was available. But this was a short simulation and we didn’t have that kind of time frame. Everyone had to play their role in a short time span so they kept asking to see the patient and we kept interrupting the nurse and none of it really worked well from an organization stand point. It got so bad at one point that a visitor was really quite rude to me. This caught me off guard as it was a criminal justice student. If I hadn’t already been so flustered dealing with my own message overload, I would have had a few words for him. I wish I could remember his name, as I would love to report that situation to whoever oversees the criminal justice students. Looking back at it, I’m sure that he was frustrated as well. But I really don’t think that it warranted him being so abrasive with me. There was one other event that I want to highlight on. I was covering for another unit clerk because she had to leave. While she was gone a nurse approached me with information that needed to be done right away. While I was entering that information, the clerk I was covering for came back. Another nurse approached her with info to be entered right away. The unit clerk, then started pushing on my shoulder repeatedly asking me if I had “gotten that” over and over as if nothing else mattered. I informed her that it would have to wait. I was really disappointed in her with this behavior. I thought that she would have treated me with a bit more respect than that. I’m downplaying the event a bit because it would take too long to cover this one event. Suffice to say, that because of her behavior I left to help the other unit clerk and didn’t come back.

Wrap up

Once the event started to finish, with patients being sent away as they had been treated. We unit clerks were able to talk amongst ourselves about how the event had gone. We found that we each had the same thing to say about the event overall. You may remember back in the “introduction” section, I stated that I figured out later on why I thought we had been given little in the way of instuction. What we all realized was that we had no direction, no organization, no real place, and that we felt like we had been forgotten about in the simulation. They hadn’t planned the same level of detail for us that other students received. I know that this was the first year that they had unit clerks. And that next year may be better. But as a volunteer and as a student, you want to feel like your time was meaningful, otherwise you lose your motivation to want to be a part of something. This also damages your self esteem. And all of these things can make a person withdraw and stop communicating entirely.

All of the volunteers gathered in the cave for a wrap up. Again, I didn’t feel like we were a part of anything, we were simple just there. Had I not shown up I don’t know if anyone would have noticed. Having said that, I will fully admit that at one point the unit clerks were thanked for being there. When things had finished and they asked for people to help with clean up. I tried to help, but again there was no direction so I just gave up and we all left.

Heading to the parking lot I could tell that one of the other clerks was depressed with how things had gone. So depressed to the point that I couldn’t even cheer her up. It was ok though, I know that she has a support system in place for her. And more to that, she texted me later on that night that she was feeling better after talking with people about how her day had gone.


I went home, feeling demotivated, my social needs barely met, my self esteem needs not met, and no self-actualization at all. Looking back at it, it’s obvious how your needs must be met from the ground up. Otherwise the top needs can’t happen at all. After going through that process, I don’t want to volunteer anymore. This entire experience was actually a larger version of smaller volunteer experiences that I encountered earlier this year with the same group. I kept hoping that the communication and the organization would get better. Sadly, from my perspective, it got worse. Even though I do feel that way, I have a hard time blaming the organizers. After all it’s the responsibility of people to speak up if there is a problem. But how do you complain to someone who is so nice, without feeling bad about it? And if the people are SPHERE are anything, they are very nice people.

Looking back on things, I usually try to find the best in something. And if you look hard enough you usually can. In this case it was a short series of questions that someone asked me. I was observed taking pictures by someone and they asked me the following:

  • Is that your camera or the schools?
  • What is your favorite type of picture to take?

These two simple questions were the best part of my experience for these reasons: They were real questions. They were genuine questions. And the person who asked them actually took the time to listen to the answer! That quick simple encounter meant a lot to me. I found that throughout the simulation if you asked someone a question, they didn’t really care if you understood the answer or not. You were just in the way and a problem to be dealt with. But getting that human contact with someone who wanted to hear what you had to say, was just refreshing.


The following is the list of questions that I asked in my interview, and what I took away from it. I didn’t focus my questions on the mass causality, as I was more interested in simulations in general.

1. How much nonverbal communication comes into play during the simulations? Or is it more verbal than anything else?

The answer to this question surprised me as I wasn’t expecting there to be much in the way of nonverbal communication. However, I was told that most of the communication between students is in fact nonverbal when they are in simulations. Things like eye rolling, facial expressions, pointing, tone of voice, etc. Due to the precise nature of medical treatment I was expecting most if not all the communication to be strictly verbal. I believe that a lot of the nonverbal methods are because they are easy to use to communicate with someone without someone else seeing it. For example, eye rolling works great if a patient can't see it whereas anything verbally said could be easily heard.

2. Do you find that volunteers tend to selective listen and don’t get the full picture of what they are needed to do.

This was an interesting subject as the answer was different depending on the group of people it was applied to. For example the students, as I was told, were so scared going into their simulations that they listened to every single word that was given to them. They were so focused that even if they had physiological or psychological noise, that the fear of going into the simulation would push them to pay attention. I think that this was a fight or flight response, which caused an increase in adrenalin and helped their ability to stay focused.

However, the people who were there to act as volunteers, typically had enough experience that they didn’t need to listen to instruction. Because of this they usually didn’t listen as carefully to what the instructions were. But because they typically had a lot of experience this isn’t an issue for them.

3. Considering the different skill levels, how do you ensure a level playing field with the students in the simulation.

I didn’t know how the groups of students in the sphere simulation were formed but I was surprised to learn that they pick their own groups. I would have thought that their instructors would do this to mix things up and make the simulation more realistic as in the real world, we don’t pick our co-workers. The people working for sphere do look out for this however and if they see that a stronger student is taking over, they will have that student perform a single task on their own while they get the weaker students to do everything else. This forces the students who are falling behind to learn what they need to learn, and not fall behind.

In closing, I have taken away a lot from my time as a volunteer. It was very interesting to see the different interactions between people both in and out of the mass causality. And even though it’s obvious that I didn’t have an overall good time at the mass causality, I will continue to volunteer. A few days after the Mass Casualty happened, I sat down with the organizers and gave my feed back of the event. They were very receptive of what I had to say which was nice to see. And I am looking forwards to spending time with them again.

Get quality help now


Verified writer

Proficient in: Myself, Pedagogy, Experience

4.9 (2552 reviews)
“She was able to compose a 3-4 page essay in less than 24 hours and the results were fantastic !! Ty so much and I'll be using her again ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More About Myself Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.