Youth Volunteering ....My story by Patrick Fox
Youth Volunteering is something that isn’t seen much these days. With consumer cultural aimed at all below 30 years old and the current recession trying to find volunteers below the age of 25 can be a miracle at times with so many having to take low paid jobs.
So I was give some strange looks from my peers when I told them I was leaving fulltime work for six month to be an international volunteer. When they asked why I sometimes found it hard to explain why and simply settled for: “Look this is something I have to do.”
And do it I did with Global Xchange (GX) a program run by VSO and the British Council. For six months I worked with a team of sixteen volunteers for Ireland & UK and China as part of an international exchange program that saw us working in Glasgow for three months and then in Xi’an China for a further three.
GX is unique in its ability to empower young people to not only feel that they make a difference in a community but also let them see the difference they make. Cross Cultural teams from all over the world work together in host communities to make a difference and learn about Global Citizenship and social issues. GX is very big on Global Citizenship and social issues.
And didn’t I get an education in it.
In Glasgow I worked with Refugees and Asylum Seekers from all corners of the world, people living on or below the poverty line with the threat of detention and deportation hang over them. In China I worked with children and young adults with learning disabilities and their families.
Some people start volunteering because they want something to do, other because they need the experience for education or work. Some, like me, do it because they are not sure what they want to do in live. Did GX help me? It did. I found out the reason why I applied was to be able to help people and to broaden my horizon as well as learn about the world.
It also showed me that youth volunteers that are committed to volunteering can bring about a lot of change in communities that normally would be forgotten. It can inspire young people to make a real difference that joining a FaceBook campaign won’t. It also teaches them to see the bigger picture without ignoring the details. Did for me and my life is never going to be the same again.