Volunteering is the ability to ‘’be the change you want to see in the world’’. I think that everyone has their own hidden potential of making a real and positive change in their community. It only takes a little ‘’dose’’ of willingness, and enthusiasm to positively change someone’s life and make them happier. That is the ‘’heart’’ of volunteering. The more people we help, the more happiness we create. And, this happiness we create is also mutually shared, because volunteering, as an act, has its own positive ‘’side effect’’ and positive social impact’. It is the side effect of helping us to become a better person in the future.

So, how volunteering can really changed me into becoming a better person?

Gaining Valuable Skills

I was a volunteer in the National Youth Council of Macedonia. It was my first time as a volunteer, and I can confidently say that it was a unique, and unforgettable experience for me. We were gathered as a team to represent the council body of NYC of Macedonia. The council body was called Youth Inspirational Group, and as a team we were chosen to collect suggestions and recommendations in areas, where young people were, and still are, very actively engaged. These areas were education, youth unemployment, youth standards, youth practice and local youth councils. Each area demanded to be publicly represented, and explained in order for us to collect the best possible advice, and information for her future progress. So, as I was presenting and discussing a certain topic, I unconsciously started to improve my communication skills, and grow new skills of teaching, and educating. But , besides the improvement of my social-communication skills , I also became better in my time management, and developed strong organizational skills, by organizing the events and consultations where the discussion occurred.

Meeting new, and interesting people

During the period of volunteering I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of people. By meeting with different people , I recognized that many of them were from a different nationality, and culture. And  that was the most interesting  and existing part for me. Meeting and becoming friends with people with a different cultural  and religious background enabled me to open my mind, and realize that there are different cultural practices around the world  and every culture has her own significant and valuable customs  that always need to be appreciated  and respected. It was an amazing intercultural connection, that later became a close friendship, that last until today. I learned a lot about their traditions, their beliefs , and they also learned something about the Macedonian culture. It definitely made me more broad-minded , understanding , and considerate towards other people, culture, and religion.

Creating a positive community change

It is incredible to recognize, and see that even one spoken word can really make a difference and influence in establishing new and effective regulations, that in the future will be of great benefit to all young people. When we were discussing the possible ways of improving one of the youth areas, every spoken word was written and sent to the public institutions as an important youth recommendation. Personally, this action for me was a small step, but with a bigger impact. And, I know that we can’t immediately say we’ve changed the world, but by doing this we have definitely begun, and we are certainly one step closer. So, yes teaching, educating, helping, or donating are the ‘’small’’ steps to ‘’climb’’ if we want to make our community  and the world a better place to live.

Encouraging an overall community development

Witnessing all the small but positive changes that were created in the youth areas where I was volunteering slowly encouraged a little portion of community development. Step by step, while trying to improve each of the youth areas, I realized that the community around us was also improving. This improvement was reflected in the wider engagement and activism from the young people. They were willing and motivated to participate and engage in giving insightful recommendations for decreasing unemployability, increasing youth standards, ’fighting’ for a qualitative youth practice as well as creating a functioning youth council.

Giving ‘birth’ to a socially responsible youngsters

I think that volunteering has the ‘power’ to inspire young people to become more socially responsible and make them aware of the value that volunteering has in establishing better relationships with other individuals, organizations and the rest of the community. Personally, being a volunteer made me not only more socially responsible and aware of the significance in helping others but also influenced in shaping my personality and character as a human being. I think that each young person, who was once a volunteer can feel an inner change in his personality and that I think is how we are shaping a better future for the community we live in.

Concluding Thoughts
Being a volunteer taught me that everything is a learning experience, and while you are a volunteer you never stop learning. Developing new skills and discovering new, interesting cultures helped me to achieve intellectual and personal growth. I developed new insights, and perceptions about myself, and the world around me. Feeling needed helped me appreciate the little things in life  like a simple smile from someone’s face, powerful enough to ‘’jump’’ beyond every cultural, and national barrier. Also with time I noticed that I felt more grateful towards everything I have in my life. It was like a reminder of what really mattered in life, family , friends , health , and of course volunteering, because only volunteering can make you realize how humane , and noble it is to help another human being, while giving you the amazing satisfaction of knowing that you are finally making a difference in the world.



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