February 07, 2017
In high school, I spent my free time volunteering.
I enjoyed the people I worked with and the jobs I was tasked with. But as time went on, management changed out and a new woman stepped in.
The environment turned hostile because of the stereotype the new manager placed on high schoolers and their distaste to do anything required of them.
After starting college I realized that the stereotype of college students is no different, because we rush to fill in requirements for medical school and scholarships.
Volunteer hours are terrifying because of how much they’re emphasized for the success in our careers.
But volunteering is just an option. You volunteer to submit your time, and help those less privileged than yourself. Making volunteer hours a requirement leads to inactive or disgruntled volunteers who don’t care about the cause they’re dedicating their time to.
Similar to a high school class, some will catch themselves thinking, “If I pass, it’ll be over with.”
You no longer view your achievements and your benefit to these organizations as worthwhile, but as one step closer to your degree or career.
If we are the community builders we preach ourselves to be, volunteering shouldn’t be a requirement.
As a community, we view volunteering as a humbling affair. It isn’t meant to fill in requirements, and it shouldn’t attract people who are doing it for the wrong reasons.
What we are building instead is a system that revolves around churning out requirements in order to receive payment.
Volunteers don’t even bother learning each other’s names because they know that once the box has been filled that person will be gone.
These environments, which are intended to bring about new relationships based on similar values, are now being warped into another means to an end.
Whether it’s because you don’t have the money to donate or you just want to be involved with a project, volunteering should become part of your daily life.
“The way you feel after helping a person and seeing that person smiling gives you a joy that cannot be measured,” said Rawaz Samal Jamal in his article, “Why Do We Need to Do Volunteer Work?”
So why do we require service hours in our programs? Do we think that students are less likely to perform without the extra push?
Do we believe it is a loss of empathy or that our communities won’t be helped otherwise?
If that is the case, our program advisers should volunteer themselves.
We think students will perform less on their own; we think students are lazy.
But, the hostile, disconcerting environment that we develop by forcing volunteering down students’ throats causes tension with other volunteers, the organization and the people we’re trying to help.
Instead of forcing people who could care less to volunteer, we should cheer on those who are willing to open their hearts to making a difference and move to be more like them.