by Lindsay Samuels (A former Volunteer at Blue Osa)
Four years ago, I chose to leave my structured life as a Band Director, selling and giving away almost all my belongings to travel through work exchange on small organic farms. After serving in many different communities, here are my top five suggestions on how to make the most out of volunteering and for a top-notch experience.
How to Make the Most out of Volunteering
1. Ask yourself “How can I help?” as often as possible.
I have found that the fastest way to feel like I am a part of a community is by working together, thus building relationships. Offer your help whenever possible; you never know what opportunities may unfold as a result, and it feels good to be of service. Also, from the standpoint of karma: the more you give, the more you receive.
2. Connect with the people around you.
Share yourself with others—not only in the form of words but also in the form of experience. Participate. Identify your gifts and give them to the community from the heart. Ask questions to get to know the people around you; cultivate relationships.
3. Have fun and enjoy the work you are doing.
Choose to participate in ways that you can share your gifts and truly enjoy the process of contribution. If you find the work challenging, choose a positive attitude and give it 100%. If the job is truly not a good fit, be assertive and let someone know, but also be proactive in finding a solution/better-fitting job. Have fun while working; look for the joy, choose to laugh!
4. Choose to learn.
Obstacles, set-backs, and frustrations are excellent opportunities for learning. Ask questions and seek guidance from those who have more experience than you. Realize the value in the simple act of giving 100% of your effort and focus, regardless of the results. And, of course: celebrate success!
5. Take time for yourself.
I have found that this is absolutely essential. In order to contribute to the community, the individual must refresh and recharge often. Know your limits, know the actions you can take to meet your particular needs, and make time for your personal health and development on all levels: Body, Mind, and Spirit.