I’ve been a volunteer for 4 years, exactly the same period I spent in University so far, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend the last two years volunteering in top-tier professional organizations, one is the most successful monthly technical event and community in Jordan – AmmanTT, and the other is the most professional, technical and research targeted organization and institute in the world, IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) where I’m serving as a Student Branch Chairman.
There are those people in the world, no matter how annoying, stupid and superficial, they trigger ideas and questions even geniuses failed to notice, an ignorant person asked me with a sneer over his face: how much do they pay you for your “voluntary work”? I smiled, and 4 years flashed through my mind, 4 years split between what I gained as a volunteer and what I learned in university. I remembered that after 5 months I’ll be thrown to the wolves in the job market and I’ll discover by accident that I’m supposed to be an engineer! I remembered that I didn’t learn a single thing in university that will really benefit me in my career; oh, I know how to use a calculator and memorize a 500-page textbook without having to understand a thing!
What you gain as a volunteer doesn’t fit in any resume, and can’t be measured with any criteria, and can’t be bought with mountains of gold. It’s an experience that molds you with people who share your vision and goals in a unique pot to achieve what normal people can’t achieve, to infect normal people with an amazing culture they’ve failed to learn, to take a look into the future and scale up your dreams to the challenges that lie ahead. But it’s not what you gain that matters the most.
To be a volunteer, you have to have that sense of sacrifice, sacrifice of your time, effort, money and even blood for what you believe in, you have to have that sense of self-denial, because the message that you hold is more important than who’s holding it, people die and names vanish, but ideas and efforts will never be forgotten. You don’t wait for anybody to appreciate what you do, you just do what you swore to do through the silence, because actions speak louder than words, you try to infect anybody you see with what has become a doctrine.
To be a volunteer, you have to influence people, you have to feel empathy towards them, you have to share their pain, you have to listen to them, you have to trust them and believe that together you’re immortal, you have to teach them and learn from them, you have to be their strength, because if you do that, they’ll do that for you in return, they’ll be your spark when you lose the light, they’ll be your shield when you’re left alone in the open.
To be a volunteer, you have to get used to be a stranger, you have to get used to have enemies who hate positivity as much as they hate change, you have to get away from black holes, you have to have faith in what you’re doing because results might take years or even decades to show up, inspiring a culture that transforms youth from wasted explosive power into a massive army that holds the keys to the future. Yes, an army, because volunteers are the most disciplined people on earth, and they’re ready to fight and sacrifice everything they have for what they believe in.
Every second counts, every moment helps you build a better version of yourself, it helps you shape the bright future we all see in our dreams, and it doesn’t go back. So make sure you make those moments count, make sure you’re remembered, by what you do and who you are. Keep learning throughout your life and enjoy the happiness and the beauty of being a volunteer, because it’s an infection that has no cure.
To be a volunteer, is the most honorable opportunity I’ve ever had, and the medal I proudly carry on my chest.