“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
This quote by the American writer and management consultant Margaret J Wheatley perfectly defines the importance of community. I feel a community can only be built if there are compassionate and passionate souls who love to join forces and help others. My experience of being part of a community has been a journey, so to speak. Coming to Australia for my postgraduate degree was one of the best decisions I made in life. But along with great decisions can come great difficulties. Adjusting to a new country, culture and people is never easy.
Being an introvert I found it difficult to engage with people around me and would quietly sit in my room lost in books, my laptop and music. I often thought to myself, ‘Who cares if I go out and actually engage? As long as I have these materialistic things I am fine’.
Within 3 months, I understood that I really needed to engage with my community. I also understood that being isolated put me at a disadvantage as I had no idea what was going on around me. It wasn’t that there weren’t opportunities, it was me who was ignoring all of them so that I wouldn’t have to leave my comfort zone. So I decided to throw the procrastination out of the window and actually try to do some sort of community-level engagement work.
One day, as I was casually scrolling through my Facebook notifications, I noticed a volunteering post offered at the YMCA op shop in Upper Mount Gravatt, Brisbane. I thought to myself, ‘This is a chance I should really take’, and I jumped on the opportunity.
I applied for the post and within a week, the general manager Kyla Rummel messaged me saying she would like to meet me, and guess what … I WENT! I would definitely say that joining YMCA op shop as a volunteer sales assistant was a golden opportunity because not only did I get to meet some wonderful women, it also helped me in overcoming my loneliness and anxiety that I had being an international student.
I am grateful to the wonderful YMCA op shop staff who welcomed me with open arms and helped me enjoy my work with them. I have to say that working as a volunteer has not only given me an opportunity to socialise and meet more people but also helped me learn new skills. Being an introvert, communicating with others is a tough job, but thanks to my volunteering experience I have started to open up more.
Being a volunteer gives you the chance to improve yourself everyday while giving back to the community. Who would have thought that a Facebook post would make such a big difference in my life? I would definitely encourage everyone to volunteer.
You can easily find these volunteering positions on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or by accessing the Griffith University portal and look under careers and jobs. Also talking to your colleagues, the staff and even your room mates can actually help you in finding volunteer work.
As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”. So get your feet working and become a volunteer!