Kuusi kättä päällekkäin, valokuva.

The Potentials of Volunteering

In current times, it is easy to fall into a ceaseless routine of studying, working, or striving for success. Not only does this leave us trapped in a bubble, but we also tend to focus on ourselves and often lose our perspective of what truly makes us happy or how we choose to define our lives.

This summer, I found myself on this same path and decided to take a step out of my comfort zone, to leave this bubble I had become so comfortable in. My options ranged between working, studying, and traveling. In the end, I decided to spend one year as a volunteer for Sininauhasäätiö in Finland. This decision to become a volunteer has truly changed my life and has so far been the most rewarding experience I’ve made.

The options of volunteering are endless and can range from helping out in a kindergarten to gardening in a sustainability project. The work is made up of diverse tasks that provide an insight into countless areas of a workplace and challenge the volunteer to implement their own ideas.

What makes volunteering so special to me is that it is driven by the motivation to help others, rather than by financial success or similar motives. In fact, the experience of volunteering brings countless benefits to everyone involved and is rewarding for the volunteer as well as for the organization, workers, and customers.

Volunteering abroad is a wonderful way to explore a different country and its culture, learn a new language, and create meaningful connections and friendships with locals as well as with other international volunteers. I have met some incredibly inspiring workers here, but it’s specifically the customers and my interactions with them that have made this project so special to me.

The experience as a volunteer plays an important role in developing and shaping personality.

Having the opportunity to interact and work with these customers has not only given me an insight into so many personal stories and details of a field I was not so well acquainted with beforehand, but it has also allowed me to shift my entire perspective regarding gratitude and how I perceive my own life and circumstances.

Of course, the work can be challenging and there are days that appear more difficult than others; however, these hardships are the aspects of the job that end up being the most rewarding, because they demand persistence and discipline. Furthermore, a smile of gratitude from a customer or a conversation with a worker can turn any work shift into something positive and uplifting.

Regardless of the field of volunteering, giving your time to others will most certainly further your growth as a person and will teach you countless things that are hard to come across otherwise. Additionally, the experience as a volunteer plays an important role in developing and shaping personality, especially that of younger people.

Sharing like-minded motives and experiences creates a feeling of community and appreciation for each other.

My work here has caused me to improve skills such as communication, organization, and self-discipline. A benefit of volunteering which has been one of the most valuable to me is the opportunity to meet and connect with other volunteers and the people at my project. Sharing like-minded motives and experiences creates a feeling of community and appreciation for each other rather than facilitating competition or bad relations.

The work at Sininauhasäätiö makes a meaningful contribution and impact on the lives of those in vulnerable positions and I am grateful to be part of this work.

Our time and energy are two of our most valuable assets, and their importance should not be underestimated. We have a choice where to invest these assets, and to share them with others by volunteering is incredibly rewarding and guarantees to create meaningful connections, experiences and memories.

I am looking forward to the rest of my project here and I encourage anyone who has time to invest it into volunteering. You won’t regret it.

International volunteer
Paulina Drautz