Lesson 17: Which types of volunteers do projects get and which do they want?

Lesson 17 Chapter 4

Types of volunteers

The Party Animal

A party animal finds out that there are nice bars and clubs in the town where he/she is doing volunteer work. The party animal goes out for a drink and is not volunteering the next day due to a hangover. This type thinks: it's just volunteer work and I am also here to enjoy myself.

Why is this not good? You have a responsibility towards your project. The people at your project expect you to be available to help. Just because you are a volunteer does not mean that you don't have an obligation towards others. 

The Scientist

The scientist likes to share his/her knowledge. The scientist believes he/she should share information about everything that is going well in the West. The scientist believes that the things in the West should also be implemented in the country where he/she is volunteering. 

Why is this not good? You may overlook a lot of important reasons why things are not going in the same way as you are used to. Besides, it can be quite rude to impose your ideas upon others.

The Angel

The angel wants to give the children love and attention. Hugging with the kids and doing fun things. The children will miss the Angel after she leaves the project.

Why is this not good? The children will get attached to you and this can have bad effects on them when you leave. Get to know more about this in the chapter about attachment.

The Egoist

The egoist does volunteer work for his / her CV. It is sometimes a requirement to do volunteer work for a specific type of study or as a part of your job. This reason for doing volunteer work is okay, as long as it is not the sole reason. The egoist solely does volunteer work, because it looks great on his/her resumé.

Why is this not good? This type will often not contribute in a good way or not contribute to the project at all, because he/she is not motivated to help others. 

The Super(wo)man

The super(wo)man is very determined to save the world. He/she has the expectation that he/she can achieve a lot of improvements at the volunteer project and for the locals at large.

Why is this not good? If you have high expectations of improving the world, you might get disappointed. You might not achieve as much as you expect.

The Santa Claus

Santa Claus arrives with a lot of presents. This volunteer likes to give presents. This volunteer thinks he/she knows what the people need and decides to give it to them. 

Why is this not good? An important question that you can ask yourself is how you come across as a volunteer if you give a lot of presents. Do you contribute in a good way or confirm the image of the rich Westerner? 

The type of volunteer you should be: Open, Honest and interested

Being the type of volunteer that is narrow-minded, dishonest, and uninterested is not healthy. In fact, it limits you as a volunteer. It hinders you from building relationships and bonds with people you are intending to help. For this reason, It is important to think about how you can be more open, honest, and interested. Keep in mind that this is something you will have to work on every day.

In the video below Lila will explain to you why she thinks it is important to be open as a volunteer.

The following tips may prove to be useful in being open, honest, and interested:

  • Learn new things - Be open towards the people you work with and show interest in their lives and their cultures. This way you will learn new things and it helps you to open up to others.
  • Listen to others - In general, people tend to be distracted when it comes to interacting with others. We are often focused on what to say next or we are thinking about something else entirely. Either way, this does not help to be an open, honest, and interested person. Volunteers are encouraged to be better listeners. This will allow you to connect with others on a deeper level. 
  • Be honest to yourself - Be honest about your own feelings. If you feel uncomfortable with a situation try to explain why this is the case, or take a step back for some reflection. The better you feel, the more you will be able to contribute during your volunteer work. 
  • Refrain from judging - we are all, one some level, worried about others opinions. Volunteers are reminded that if you judge others, you are subjecting yourself to be judged. If you judge others, you are labelling them, putting them in boxes and while this is convenient, it often takes away a lot of opportunities. Judging others is not a way to be open, honest, and interested. 

Next lesson : Test your knowledge