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  • Daphne Zhu

My Volunteering Journey So Far

By Daphne Zhu
Posted on November 28, 2022
Cover Image title: Silent Passing
Cover Image by: Rebecca Ngo
Classification: Photography
Year: 2022

Entering the fall of 2022 marks over a year of my volunteering journey here at BrookEdge Academy. A year of learning, personal development, and of course, the growth of every single student I’ve taught. I reflect back on my students - their individuality, their personalities, and what they’ve taught me. I reflect on my own experiences - hosting workshops, tutoring English, and teaching art. I also reflect on BrookEdge Academy and the community - our mission, our methods, and our team.

Looking back on this year, I realized the evolution within myself and my teaching style. Entering my first tutoring session, people often forget how nervous the tutor themselves can be. I had stayed up preparing the lesson, rehearsing what I wanted to say, and working on the material. During the lesson - everything went off script - but it still went smoothly. That’s almost a metaphor for life itself: things manage to work themselves out, and we learn as we grow. My most recent workshop was a huge success (with minimal nerves), but of course, with hours of preparation, planning, and dry runs that went into it. None of this the students see, which is why I wanted to be transparent about it with this blog post.

I strongly stand by advocating for volunteering, despite all the hard work, effort, and labour that goes into it. I stand by it because of all the hard work, effort, and labour required. It’s taught me about patience, kindness, empathy, and virtue. It’s taught me hard skills: how to plan a lesson, time management, and demonstrations. It’s also taught me soft skills that can be transferred to all avenues of life: leadership, tenacity, and adaptability.

I can truly say that volunteering, especially as a tutor, and being able to surround myself with young, creative minds, has helped shape me into a better leader. I’ve learned to let everyone’s individuality speak for itself, without straying away from the task at hand. I’ve learned to balance the freedom that a child’s imagination is equipped with, and the practical application of the material. I’ve learned how to teach - but also, how to learn. I’ve learned how to speak with confidence, but also how to listen with vulnerability.

So what does volunteering mean to me? Upon writing this, I’ve put off this question till the end in hopes of the answer coming to me as I type. With everything I’ve mentioned taken into scope of perspective, I think the answer lies in front of us; volunteering to me means putting yourself out there, in situations where the outcome is unpredictable, but through teamwork, management, spontaneity, and determination, the outcome is shaped. It means giving your time to help others and the community. It means using your resources, your creative mind, and your knowledge, and sharing the blend of them all with those around you. If this entire article and the meaning of volunteerism can be summed up in one quote, I would say, “A rising tide lifts all boats”: meaning the growth of one uplifts others around you, with you.

Thus, as I reflect on my year of volunteering at BrookEdge Academy, I also can't help but be curious about what the future holds. I invite those reading this to be a part of the wonderful movement here at BEA: providing access to free education, to everyone, everywhere. Be part of the change - join us! We’d love to have you here. The team is nothing but supportive, attentive, and caring. I can’t wait for you to experience your own personal journey as a volunteer.

* The End *

[Writing Editor: Ayse Nur Sasmaz]

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