Volunteerism is the foundation to healthy and happy communities – not just in Markham, but around the world. Whether it is a community summer camp, or a Red Cross mission in South America, volunteering impacts societies across the globe.
It’s me again everyone – Rubaina! I am back today with a little extra October motivation for you all. I am aware school is well on its way and midterms are right around the corner; we are all in the need for a little pick me up. As I was speaking with many of my peers over the last month about their volunteer experiences and their summers, I came across an intriguing experience that I thought would be amazing to share with anyone thinking of Volunteering. My close friend, Rebecca Zhong, recently went on a Volunteer mission to Peru in August this past summer. She, too, is a Grade 12 student at Markville Secondary School in Markham, Ontario. I sat down with her to ask her everything about her experiences and her advice to any aspiring volunteers. The results are a must read if you are seeking inspiration, motivation, and information!
How did you come across the opportunity?
I had always heard about travelling abroad and it was so intriguing to me. I sat down and searched for companies and missions looking for volunteers, applied/researched a few, and then registered! Thousands of volunteer opportunities are available online at the community or international level. The process was very simple.
What made you decide to take on this opportunity?
I have always loved making an impact in the lives of others, cultural experiences, and trying new things. I have volunteered for many youth events in the GTA and worked different jobs. The opportunity to travel to another country and use what I have learned to make a larger impact was so exciting to me.
Tell me more about your experiences during the duration of the trip.
I honestly do not know where to start! During the trip, we were able to help children at local schools with literacy, reading, math, and more. We lived with locals and got to experience Peru in its beauty and flaws. Talking to children about their life stories and the locals about their culture was awesome. We tried new foods, dances, sports, activities, and more! The trip was the best 5 days of my life.
What was your favourite memory? Why?
I tried ATV riding for the first time! During some free time, we met with some locals to try this radical new activity. With new opportunities come a range of surprising and exciting experiences and this was just one of them. I would have never tried something like this as at home.
What would you tell any aspiring volunteers?
Cool opportunities are not out of anyone’s reach. Yes you! If this all seems super cool yet unattainable – you’re wrong. I am not saying you should get on a plane to Peru this month, rather, push yourself to your own limits and start doing SOMETHING, anything. As long as you are willing to try something new and say “yes”, opportunity will always be there for you. I definitely recommend getting volunteer experience locally because that is what helps me take on larger opportunity like this. Volunteering is not about having a big flashy impact, rather causing authentic in communities and the environment.
What previous volunteering experience did you have?
I would volunteer for local, Markham community events like Night it up, MYC (Markham Youth Council) council events, and retirement homes.
How did the trip change your general perspectives about community involvement and the world in general?
Every human is equal. No matter where you are from and what separates you from other, every human life has equal value. That’s why we all need to do our part in making the world a better place. Volunteering can have such a large impact on this. I will never forget the days I spent in Peru and I apply the perspectives to my daily school and personal life every day. Our personal successes do not mean anything if we don’t help others.
How did your parents let you do this on your own?
Trust me – I get it!!! Strict parents are a problem for me like everyone one else. How in the world would they let me go, ON MY OWN, to a FOREIGN country, DURING HIGH SCHOOL?! My parents came around and yours can too, if you take the right steps. Make a proper list of reasons you really want to go. In addition, tell them about all the details of the trip – who are you going with (I signed up with my best friend), which organization is taking you, what safety protocols will be in place? All these questions will help them reconsider. Make sure to address the issue calmly and objectively. Further, all the information will be available to you when you do your research so definitely use the source – the organization hosting the trip – for things like departure dates, flights, accommodation, medical insurance, travelling and more.
Follow Rebecca Zhong on Facebook and feel free to reach out to her: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.zhong.10
I hope that you all can take away from this experience and use this perspective in your own life. Remember, the most important thing is to get started now.
Feel free to reach out to me regarding any topics of interest for future blogs!
Until next time, Rubaina Singla Chair, Change the World Markham
Stay connected with Change The World Markham: facebook.com/changetheworldmarkham Volunteermarkham.ca