At the risk of preaching to the converted, I have to say that volunteering is fantastic!
My own recent experience has been with a group known as Melbourne Free University for Asylum Seekers (MFU4AS). The concept was to allow asylum seekers to experience first year university content while on visas that did not allow them to work or enrol in formal studies.
Armed with a very old BA in Political Science, I offered to support the seminars in Global Politics with no clear idea of how that would work, happy enough to see how it would play out. Over a semester of topics ranging from global security, through global economics to gender issues and many more in between, we helped the participants from a range of professional experience, age, ethnicity and English skills articulate their ideas and insights as part of general discussion. It was a joy to have my own perspectives challenged by those from different experiences on some really complex concepts.
In the final week of the course, the teachers and support staff were thanked by the ‘students’ for what we had done over the semester with a presentation and slideshow. It was such a beautiful expression of the value of MFU4AS to them and of what they had given to us.
Since that first semester, I have run a session on presentation skills and provided my support to other sessions about entering the employment market. I have grown from every single interaction and count myself fortunate to have been able to participate.