When I joined graduate school, I discovered that some students were engaged in volunteerism on a regular basis, either for professional reasons, such as intending to build a humanitarian career, or for personal reasons, such as achieving moral or religious obligation. While I believed in the importance of the personal virtues more than the professional ones, I decided to focus more on the requirements of the second virtue, which basically necessitated being more goal-oriented and result driven.
Indeed, volunteerism or community service has become extremely professional and competitive over the last years, mainly for requiring accountability to both the organization (NGO that we represent), and the community that we assist. At this point, as a volunteer I was quite oblivious of the human or moral aspects of volunteerism, while paying more attention to the completion of my duty hours and achieving quality work, considering it more of a legal and professional obligation.
This means that, volunteerism, in this context, did not necessarily recognize the small human gestures that could bring a smile to someone’s face as much as it focused on rescuing or simply helping a large scale society in times of crisis, out of professional duty. However, with further engagement and participation in the social events as well as hearing stories, I got to distinguish between getting engaged in a volunteering position for professional or personal reasons and goals. This distinction came from finding out gradually due to life’s hurdles, new virtues of volunteerism, that go beyond boosting our professional life, to reach the deepest and inner part of ourselves and souls, transforming them from ordinary human beings into spiritually grown ones. Indeed, I think that this exceptional status of growth, comes from the motivation and self-growth that a volunteer gains after realizing that there are situations, people, and conditions worse than his/ her own.
Thus, my whole argument is that, the professional aspect of volunteering might get us status or wealth, but the fact that we will be engaged in doing statistical data for an NGO or designing a humanitarian project differs from personally living with or assisting persons in real need. This view comes from my belief that a volunteer is similar to a traveler who chooses to watch people’s cultures and traditions from afar, while photographing or recording them, without participating, practicing, and getting immersed in them.
This last example, serves to convey that devoting some time to human volunteering, that would allow you to be engaged and in personal touch with the underprivileged, the marginalized, the poor, or the physically handicapped, would not only protect your mental and physical health, but it will also boost them positively. A vivid example of this would be disposing of daily life’s dilemmas through pondering over how this physically handicapped person could still smile and make efforts to become creative. In other words, volunteering in this case would make you discover that you do not have the right to feel bad in the presence of other humans who have to endure a different, harsher life due to their condition. Overall, if you do not consider volunteering for building your career, then you should do for boosting your spiritual awareness and moral well-being.
Written by: Soukaina Barnichi
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