“International” volunteering: a unique experience!

On my English adventure, I am enjoying two volunteer projects related to two causes that are fundamental in my daily life:

  • First, health.
    Beechwood
  • Second, training

Yes, you read correctly. I'm enjoying. Because in my life in Spain I had little availability to work as a volunteer on a regular basis (or I didn't know how to prioritize...). I only collaborated in specific events and I was not able to follow up or be aware of what being a Volunteer represented.

Here in Manchester, many people dedicate time weekly to helping other people, in a selfless way. There are many organizations, the main streets are full of charity shops (10,200 "charity shops" counted in the United Kingdom) related to helping the sick, orphans, refugees, low-income families, caring for animals...

Who helps who?

I am working on Fridays in the Stockport shop “Beechwod cancer care centre”, managing donations and selling fundraising items. Everything sold in the store comes from donations: clothes, furniture, books, records, toys, jewelry, small appliances, kitchen utensils, decoration... Practically every day, someone comes in to offer us some "gift", knowing that it contributes to improve other people's lives. About 12 people work in the store: 11 volunteers and the store director.

From the first day this experience is helping me to value the small details, to be aware of how we all need others, to awaken in me a new enthusiasm focused on the "intangible", the "immaterial", to observe with others eyes the reality that surrounds us, to be more present, more attentive and more available for what is truly important.

Who learns from whom?

The adult school where I attend as a student to improve my English –Stopford Open Learning Center– offered me the possibility of working as a volunteer, helping the English Teacher at the Pre-entry (initial) level. The students who attend this class generally have just arrived in England, they come from distant countries, with cultures very different from ours and they are eager to integrate and learn. Many of them have experienced very difficult situations in their countries of origin and they feel tremendously grateful when you offer them help.

As a volunteer, my mission is to reinforce/accompany those people who feel a little lost, not only with English but with European culture. Boost their self-confidence, give them prominence, provide them with value.

Our students are Citizens of the World! although their countries of origin are Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, Romania,... All of them led by our English/Irish teacher Paul.

I started this volunteering five months ago and I am the one who is learning more than anyone else. I learn that knowing other cultures and other personal stories makes us strong and makes us grow on a human level. I confirm, once again, that words and language are only part of communication. The smile, the look, the gratitude, the empathy and the attitude are the true universal tools of communication.

And I'm learning that Volunteering is a unique Experience!

I encourage you to also live this experience. Collaborate as volunteers starting tomorrow in a cause that motivates you. It's really rewarding work!

Thank you Beechwood Cancer Care center.

Thank you Stopford Open Learning Center.

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