Travel Log 12:”Service” By Alexandra Borges. Cardiff, Wales

Unfortunately because of restrictions, I was unable to participate in a community service events, however I was able to interview a member of one of the organizations here in Cardiff that does service work. She is a first year that is part of the organization called Student Volunteering Cardiff, which is a registered charity here in Cardiff. It was formed by the merging of the Cardiff University Social Services (formed in 1969) and the Student Community Action (formed in 1971) in 2001. The Student Volunteering Cardiff allows the vision of the original student of both organizations to be carried on and will continue benefit future generations of the city.The Student Volunteering Cardiff organization has a plethora of projects ranging working with children and young people, in education, with people learning disabilities, with people with mental health, with homeless, helping environment and community, working with partner organizations, and many other opportunities.

Lucy, the member that I interviewed, is currently volunteering with the mental health project. When volunteering her and other volunteers go the hospital once a week to the mental health wards. Here, they chat with patients and play games with them, establishing a relationship with them. They talk to them first couple of weeks to build trust and bond with the patients, that way later on they are able to plan activities that the patients will feel comfortable participating in. I’ve asked Lucy what her experience has been thus far. She told me that she wasn’t completely new to working with mental health patients because she had done something similar to this type of volunteering before. However, she still expressed that it was still a little nerve wracking at first even though she knew what to expect. She said it was nerve wracking because when go and talk to these people you worry that they might not like you or might not be very responsive towards you. However, she said it has been going very well and plans to continue volunteering through SVC the remainder of her time here at Cardiff University. Lucy is a psychology student here at Cardiff University and expresses that by volunteering she gets to see and explore the different areas of mental health in connection to her studies. Ultimately, she says really loves volunteering to help these people, she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I was really bummed that I couldn’t actually participate in any community service while abroad because back home I volunteer at my church whenever I can, it would have been an awesome experience. However, I can understand and relate to Lucy’s thoughts and feelings. Drawing from my past experiences, I can relate to Lucy’s experience.

Previously, I have helped/volunteered in many different projects, but feel that the experience that best matches Lucy’s would be my time at the Kennedy Donovan Center back home. I volunteered/helped at this facility, Kennedy Donovan Center, which was a school/ daycare for physically and mentally disabled children. I was very nervous my first time volunteering there, for fear that the children would not take kind to a stranger or me in general. However, my fears were put to ease at once, when they swarmed me and bestowed me with hand made cards. Just talking to them, reading to the, and even just giving them your attention is enough for them. They were absolutely precious and the experience was just eye opening, to see children with such incapacitations overcoming them with this overwhelming happiness. It makes you realize things you take for granted and also how much courage and strength they have. If going to visit and spend time with them raises their spirits then I’ll continue to do it. It was definitely an experience that I will never forget. I can’t begin to explain the feeling I get when I help people, I can’t describe it, you just feel good. There is a sense of gratification knowing that even if it’s just one person you have made, even if its small on the grand scheme of things, a difference. The benefit of this type of service to both sides

I think that when we discuss terms of community service and global community there is an automatic connection, its one of the most direct ways to enact a change in the world. I mean it literally is the essence of community, people joining together to help those in need or to help people in general. People often think that giving people something physical that they need is always the answer, but often listening to someone and raising their spirits has an even larger effect on the community. The benefit of the world’s future generations, are guaranteed through these selfless acts of community service. This is a major way to support the global community. I think from the things we have experienced abroad and the knowledge we have gained, whether through our experience or through the research we have done (i.e. Half Sky documentary, etc.), our class definition of global community has changed for the better.

“Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil. Affirmation of the world–that is affirmation of the will to live, which appears in phenomenal forms all around me– is only possible for me in that I give myself out for other life”. – Albert Schweitzer

I think that this quote goes with this picture because it really captures the essence of a volunteer. They give of their time to and for others. They are truly gifted people not because there is anything special about them, but rather because they are filled with so much compassion and will to do good. The only thing to do then is to give of themselves to others. By this selfless act they save and encourage the community to follow in their footsteps, making them truly a gift. Giving without wanting or needing anything in return because it is simply the best way for them to show their appreciation for the Life all around them.

 

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