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Side Effects Of Volunteering

Side Effects Of Volunteering

As a student, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer in my community and meet a lot of different people. While at first, I was focused to learn about the organizations and causes I was working for, I was surprised to learn three unexpected lessons about people:

1. Everyone has a story to tell
For many of the people that I met while volunteering, I discovered that everyone had a unique story to tell. Whether it was a volunteer who was volunteering because they had a personal connection to the cause the nonprofit was dedicated to, or a client of the food bank who was struggling to make ends meet, I realized that everyone had a story worth listening to. I believe this has helped me to become a better listener and more empathetic towards others.

2. Small gestures can have a big impact
While volunteering, I saw firsthand how small gestures could make a bigger impact that I thought or intended at first. Whether it was a smile or simply sharing a kind word, I saw how small acts of kindness could brighten someone’s day. This taught me that even the smallest things you say or do can make a difference and inspired me to be more intentional about showing kindness to others.

3. People are more alike than different
Before volunteering, I had a lot of assumptions about people who came from different backgrounds or had different beliefs than me. But after meeting and working alongside people from all walks of life, I realized that we had more in common than I thought. I think this pushes me to be open-minded and less judgmental towards others. You can’t judge a book by the cover.

Volunteering has opened my eyes to more than the specific cause or mission of any given nonprofit. There is a human aspect to it all, something you don’t learn in classrooms. Through volunteering, I believe I have developed more empathy and appreciation for people around me. It has been good for me, and I encourage others to volunteer and discover the unexpected lessons for themseleves.

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