Volunteer Experience: the Impact of Volunteering on Society

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Having supported the children and young people during other academic sessions over the year, I felt I sense the impact that volunteering had on them personally and on their learning. Their sheer enthusiasm inspired me to try to capture and analyze their experiences. In our action learning section, I asked for their narratives, asking what it was about the experience that so differed based on their daily life. My overriding sense was that the immersive nature of the volunteering combined with their interactions with the young people had helped to transform their attitudes towards themselves, their practice, and their ability to form and maintain relationships, pushing them towards the transformative end of the scale. This is consistent with a symbolic interactionism perspective on self-perceptions and on developing relationships. Symbolic exchanges occurred during interactions and these appear to have shaped understandings and cemented social relationships. For a short time, I had been off my usual student ‘script’ into a completely different domain and had adapted to the challenge by raising the responsibility. In doing so, I had achieved volunteer experience, and new considerations by being part of the young people’s world, using their dialectal, interpreting, and making meaning of their way of communication.

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I have found through the experience that I like to volunteer and shortly I will probably volunteer on my own, rather than for a class. By the end of the volunteering, I felt proud to be a part of each child’s accomplishments, and saying goodbye to them was one of the hardest things that I experienced. As a healthcare professional, it is vital to maintain healthy relationships with the patients and people that you work with. Making use of attachment theory Skovholt and Trotter-Mathison (2011), helpfully describe the ‘caring cycle’ as consisting of four stages: Empathetic Attachment, Active Involvement, Felt Separation, and finally, Re-creation. I related this model to my time with the children and it is directly transferable to the relationships I might form in my healthcare practice. Knowledge and use of the model have helped me to think differently about the process of attachment. Failure to reach the recreation stage of the caring cycle may indicate an unwanted level of attachment or unprofessional attitudes. I believe that I will now be able to take part in further roles, being able to recreate healthy and professional relationships.

I perceive that during my psychology career, I will encounter people from all lifestyles and this episode forced me to think about my attitude and values. I believe this realization equates to a shift in values, which will stay with me for years to come. These volunteer experiences have aided me in being more self-empowered in my personal life. I believe it is important to prove to yourself that you can achieve great results, and for a charitable cause. It is perhaps the most satisfying experience to act for others rather than for yourself. This insight is important for me to learn, as I often think about personal gain. It serves as a key for me to comprehend that perhaps the greatest success is to provide success for others. It is through such ventures I believe that one will get first-hand experience on what it entails to be in certain careers. More so, it helps one to spend their spare time in the most productive way possible. In the end, individuals can make worthwhile discoveries about themselves and life in general.  

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