Paying it Forward, one person at a time… – Mily’s Story

My volunteering experience was a genuinely satisfying one.

This was a couple years ago and so now I’m thinking of re-devoting some of my time to volunteering activities. I volunteered for older people who wished to acquire more knowledge, skills and the know-how in operating IT equipment at a basic to intermediate level. They wanted to learn how to use a laptop, how to send emails, etc. This also included other activities one does online like shopping, creating or setting up online accounts, online banking and how to handle privacy settings within apps, browsers and services like Facebook.

At first, before I started, there was a registration of interest from my side, followed by an interview with a charity manager at their head offices in central London. In the interview I was asked about my desire and inclination to volunteer in this particular sector. I replied saying my own grandparents, before they passed on, were keen on learning new things as they were lifelong learners, something I wish to see in myself growing up. And I wanted to encourage the same habit and proclivity among others in the older age-group.

The experience, to my initial surprise and gradual understanding, was a mutually beneficial one. It is said that if you want to learn something better, teach. I learnt with this experience, that it not only is a free way of increasing my confidence, but it is also a fantastic method of gaining experience in a chosen field. This experience can come in handy when you are looking for jobs, not just in that particular sector, but in most sectors, as volunteering transcends set boundaries of industry.

As regards something I disliked about the experience, to be honest I didn’t care too much for the travel. It was a number of buses I had to change and there was no direct route on the underground. There was also some initial nervousness about the whole thing as I had not done it before. So I didn’t quite know what to expect. After the first time though, it felt like a piece of cake.

I would definitely encourage volunteering. I think it is only right to mention that I was not born here. So it also freed me and gave me more confidence communicating and interacting with people I was helping! I felt the tables turn and that was a positive, empowering experience. I believe everyone, regardless of their current academic, professional or social status, should do some volunteering. It opens up one’s mind and emancipates us in a way that is inexplicable overall. The entire experience may not be 100 percent pleasurable or enjoyable, but if you stick with it you are bound to reap the benefits. Consider it a marathon, not a race.

When I was given the opportunity to write a blog post about it, I welcomed it. I hope more people will take a step forward and do something for someone, in some way you know, like in the movie Pay it Forward.