I had my first taste of volunteering between the 1st and 2nd years of my undergraduate degree, whereby I helped out a couple of days a week throughout the summer holidays at a non-profit organisation back in my hometown. Despite only helping out behind the scenes, assisting their admin team, I picked up the ‘volunteering bug’; I realised there was so much more I could do to help other people in a volunteering capacity and was determined to do so.
I then discovered Warwick Volunteers, a division of Student Careers & Skills designed specifically to enable students at the University of Warwick to experience volunteering in the local community. Just over 4 years and 700 hours of volunteering later I find myself as the student president of this fantastic organisation. A significant portion of this time has comprised engaging children of all ages with technology and programming, in particular teaching them in local schools and at one-off events; this was achieved through volunteering with Technology Volunteers, one of Warwick Volunteers’ many projects.
I have taken great pleasure in seeing children learn from my teaching and also the excitement that they get when they see student volunteers arrive at their school, thinking that we will be teaching them that afternoon. I still remember my 2nd ever school session, all those years ago… soon after starting the lesson I noticed one child in particular was struggling with the concepts we were trying to teach, so I decided to dedicate most of my time towards helping her. After the two hours she had successfully completed the lesson objective, to make a racing game in a program called Scratch. She was both overjoyed and in disbelief of her achievement, exclaiming “I never thought I’d be able to do this!” She then proceeded to repeatedly thank me for the help I had given her throughout the session. From my perspective the help I had given was rather insignificant, but to her my help was crucial in allowing her to achieve something she didn’t previously think she was able to, giving her enormous satisfaction and more importantly confidence.
It is moments like this that show the true value of our volunteering efforts, and why volunteering is such an important experience to have, not just in terms of building your CV and important skills that may be beneficial to a future career, but also to see how we as individuals can help the people around us in significant ways. Just a small amount of our time can have a huge impact on somebody else, so I urge anyone and everyone to give up a fraction of theirs for the benefit of others today. #IWill
Name: Matt Earl
Exec role: President
Year of study: Fourth Year
Subject of study: Chemistry