Since the application process to the Children’s Hospital is so involved, I have not been able to start my volunteering yet. On Saturday though, I did go to a workshop on involvement in the community. In it, we discussed what we thought made up community service, what the causes and effects of poverty were, stereotypes, and ended the session with some examples of difficult situations we could get into while volunteering and possible solutions.
Maybe it’s because the workshop started at 10 am on a Saturday, but the only part that I thought was truly valuable and worth getting up for on a Saturday was the last bit. Defining community service was sort of interesting in that it showed how many different opinions there were on the subject, but of the dozen or so definitions offered, the majority of people tended to choose the same one or two anyway. The activity on stereotyping/judging was also kind of interesting, where we turned to the person next to us and, based on only looking at them, wrote out what assumptions we had on them in terms of age, heritage and socioeconomic class. But the whole moral of the activity seemed to me like it would have belonged more in another workshop as it didn’t give me any specific guidelines on starting out as a volunteer. And I have no idea what the point of mapping out the causes and effects of poverty were. The last bit, on the other hand, was actually very useful to me as it gave specific examples of difficult situations a student could get into and how to best solve them. An example of one that I found surprising was that, as a volunteer at a homeless shelter, you shouldn’t give a birthday present to a particular homeless person you’ve gotten to know as it shows a sort of favoritism and may be against the policies of the shelter. Instead, you’re supposed to ask a supervisor what to do, and possibly donate something to the whole shelter so as to not be too specific.
In general though, I’m glad I went as I did get some very useful information at the workshop, and hopefully by next week I’ll have started on my actual volunteering.