The impact of volunteering

A teacher (who decided to remain anonymous) wanted to share her feedback on some of the activities she took part in together with the EVS volunteers from Team for Youth Association. This is her letter to us:

Dear Team for Youth,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet some of your volunteers and even more to work with them. I got the chance to meet some of them at the end of November. Since then I had volunteers in my class every week. I just want to tell you how much this experience helped my kids and myself.

Firstly, meeting people from a different country than Romania had a big impact on my kids. My kids have behavior problems, attention deficit and they are also hyperactive. All these things combined and also the fact that they are teenagers make them be bored very fast and they need a lot of different activities to be motivated and keep them engaged in a task. Seeing new people in the class every week made them more willing to learn new games and new things. Also, the fact that there were other people helping them was a very important thing. In my class there are between 6-9 kids every day. It might not seem much but each one of them needs different kind of help. So, having 2-3 volunteers every week helped my kids to feel important.

Another thing that got changed in the last few months is their self-esteem. In the beginning they were very shy and they were reluctant at the activities proposed. After second time we had volunteers, they start asking me every day when the volunteers will come again because they like the activities a lot. Now, they have the courage to talk and be themselves. They started to become more curious about the people that visit us asking about where they come from and what they do back in their countries. They even learned a few new words in English just to be able to ask the volunteers.

All of them liked the volunteers that came to us because they were very kind and open to embrace each one of them. They felt that they are cared and respected. They wait every week for volunteers because it helps us avoid boredom and learn new things from different people.

The fact that volunteers came in our class made the kids feel more special than rest of the kids from school, becoming proud and feeling motivated to have them in our class as long as possible.

The hardest part of this experience was when volunteers had to go back to their homes. Kids get attached very fast and profound on people who show them care. All the volunteers showed them that, so when it came to say goodbye it was very hard. We took so many photos with everybody, but they are being missed. All the kids told me that they want for their birthdays the volunteers to come back to visit us. They said it would be the best present. So, I think that says a lot about their work and their experience in my class.

I know sometimes special kids can be very unpredictable and they might be aggressive with those around them, but having people from different places willing to play games and teach them different things can change them little by little. I think that more people should interact with kids with special needs because they help us see things differently. Sometimes disability is not visible like in the case of my class. Sometimes we see some kids that don`t know how to behave in society and we judge without knowing their struggles.

By what you are doing, you help us make people more aware about the ones around them and their needs. Also people that volunteer and teachers involved can learn more about themselves and can develop their skills.

Thank you again for giving me the chance to meet so many kind and loving people, and also I thank you for giving my kids the attention and care they deserve.

Kisses and hugs, A teacher