Volunteering at university: give a little, gain a lot.
By Tin-Wai Ip, fourth year Dentistry student
Clubs, societies, sports - there are so many opportunities to get involved in different things as a student. One of the more over-looked and often unappreciated activities is volunteering. Yet, there are an immense amount of benefits, skills and personal development to be achieved through volunteering.
I got involved because I wanted to use my time outside of lectures productively to gain new experiences, to be able to meet new people and learn new skills.
One afternoon, I discovered a small grocery shop near the university that seemed charming. I knew nothing about the store other than it felt welcoming and the staff were friendly. Noticing a sign calling for new volunteers, I asked what it was about and what the volunteering involved, which consisted mostly of running the shop and stocking shelves, like any other shop. However, here, there was a generous community spirit in those that dedicated their time. The shop itself placed importance on supplying local produce with emphasis on fair trade and organic goods. Being entirely non-profit, the shop felt like a positive promising environment to dedicate my time to. On a whim, I agreed and gave over my contact details.
My first day volunteering at this place was an exciting experience. I had never had any sales experience and never even touched a cash register. Nevertheless, the experienced volunteers were patient with me and, after some time, I became responsible for training new volunteers. This sparked my wider interest in volunteering, leading to participation in various programmes and the university’s 24 hour volunteering event. I enjoyed the feeling that I was doing something productive and giving back to the city I’ve grown to love.
Through volunteering, I was exposed to a whole new community that I would have otherwise been oblivious to. That is hands-down the best part of volunteering; being able to listen to stories from warm, like-minded people from all walks of life, drastically different from my own.
So I urge you to get involved with volunteering! It will broaden your life views and open up a world of opportunities. It benefits the community and will add to your technical and interpersonal skills, CV and career building opportunities.
Go to the Volunteering Portal and register to browse through the many volunteering opportunities. Alternatively, go to volunteering office in the Student Union to get more information.
What you give towards volunteering will be exponential to what you get back. Feel being part of something bigger than yourself!