The Life of a Volunteer

I just returned from a 3 day retreat with my fellow volunteers, so I’ve got work on the brain. I think I’ll talk just a little about my volunteer year and then return to the usual movies, music, tv show type of post.

The job that I have this year is not something that you would usually think of when you think of a ‘volunteer year’. Instead of getting down and dirty building a house with Habitat for Humanity, or working in a homeless shelter, (things that I have done and love to do, by the way), I am working at a university. The program that I am with, sends volunteers to college campuses to work on civic engagement initiatives. Our ultimate goal is to alleviate poverty, but we do so by trying to get more college students involved in service learning or community service.

I am a part of a corps of volunteers, which mean that there is a group of about 25 of us who are working on campuses throughout the state. We do trainings, retreats, and all kinds of stuff together as a group. All of the people in my corps are working on different things on their campus. I, in particular, am working on establishing Service-Learning. I work a lot with faculty trying to help them integrate service projects into their syllabi. It’s tricky business though. Service-Learning is based on reciprocity, meaning that both parties, the class and the service site, have to be benefiting each other in a way they actually need. We try to avoid placing a course of students at a service site, just to serve. We want the students to be learning valuable lessons that relate to their course, and we want the service site to be provided with a service that they actually need.

Service-Learning is something that is new to me, but I am really enjoying learning about this year. I am also enjoying being on a college campus, especially since I hope to someday have a career in higher education. Finally, I have been really loving getting to know community partners and members of the community. This community has some very specific problems that are going to be hard for me to try to work on, but I have never had the opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of a community so well.

While I am loving this year of service so far and learning a lot, it has been extremely challenging. I am basically the first person at this campus to be working on Service-Learning. It is also challenging learning to live on a volunteer stipend, managing food stamps, etc. However, as I keep saying, I am learning. And I think that this will be one of the most important personal outcomes of this year.

So- that’s my volunteer year in a very condensed nutshell. If you want to know anything else, feel free to ask. Do you want more about my volunteer year? Talk to me.  🙂

I’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming next post, but I just thought it would be a good idea to talk about it just a little bit.

Thanks for reading!!




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ProfeJMarie (Janet)
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 09:19:17

    I thought I’d finally respond to this post – since I had asked you about it so long ago in the first place. What I want to say is that I am really glad you are learning about Service-Learning and educating others about it because it is a really important distinction to make between students and schools volunteering and *offering* their service and service learning. The mutual benefits of true service learning projects are fabulous.
    Now that you are going on halfway through it, what do you think you might do next? 😉


    • mfluder14
      Jan 18, 2011 @ 11:37:48

      I think next year I’m going to try and do another year, but in a different position. I really want to get as many experiences out of this as I can. I have learned so much this year, but I don’t know if it is ultimately the right fit for me. I’m going to try to find a different position in the same program (which I adore) where I can work more with people instead of being behind a desk for much of the day. I’m excited for what the future holds. 🙂


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