Starting at the end of the month, I’m going to be volunteering for an adult literacy program. Specifically, I’ll be co-leading writing workshops for adults who read between a 4th and a 12th-grade level. Conventional wisdom says this kind of thing allows you to feel good about yourself, but honestly? I have no idea what to expect and no idea to what extent it will try my patience. Don’t get me wrong: this is something I will do to the best of my abilities (I could use the experience and if I’m actually able to help some people, all the better) and I have no intention of snapping at anyone. It is, however, something that will be very new and different for me.
I’m curious to know if anyone else here who doesn’t have a cheerful or outgoing personality has done volunteer work and how that turned out for them.
People put more pressure on themselves to do well than the people they’re helping put on them.
Most individuals who need some form of help, no matter what it is, are greatful for even the smallest of things. There is an element of paitence-trying, but usually the gratitude over what you’re doing overshadows that and makes it worth it.
I did volunteer child care for several years. Just a couple hours a month while the mothers were in group sessions. I had my doubts at first, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was a blast watching the kids grow older and more confident. And no one who knows me would use “cheerful and outgoing personality” to describe me!
I’m a bit of a dick and have taught kids 7-12 cooking, piano and singing and it’s always been fine. Used a combination of showing off a bit (playing something really difficult; giving them something brilliant to taste) so that they appreciate that I’ll have something to show them; making it clear that it’s for their benefit, not mine, and that I will do the best I can only so long as they cooperate ; not being patrronising. Humouring them, but maintaining a barrier.
I found it was really good fun. Sometimes it did test my patience, but sometimes I suspect that my patience needs testing…
Time for an update: two weeks in and this is going really well. We had 10 show up for our first class and 4 show up for our second. About half are non-native English speakers. Everyone seemed enthusiastic and engaged.