In 2014-15 we awarded NWCCI Outstanding Volunteer certificates to students who completed over 100 volunteer hours during the program. Four students earned these prestigious awards. Below, Amanda Fletcher writes about how NWCCI students contribute to the communities where they study and what they learn while volunteering.
NWCCI students make a major impact in the communities where they study. Last year, participants reported completing over 2,400 volunteer hours! Among those students, there were four who went above and beyond the NWCCI requirements; Noor Abir from Bangladesh, Oktaviana “Oni” Djulette from Indonesia, and Lerato Mokoena and Siyanda Xulu, both from South Africa. Each contributed at least 100 hours of their time to volunteering and earned NWCCI Outstanding Volunteer certificates. These certificates were distributed at NWCCI graduation.
While NWCCI organizes many opportunities for students to volunteer together in groups, we also encourage students to seek out volunteer roles that allow them to develop skills in their fields, learn more about community organizations and interact with people in the community. The four students who earned outstanding volunteer certificates volunteered at events as diverse as a multi-tribe pow wow, community litter pick- ups, orientation for new international students to the college, organizing a Halloween event for an elementary school, local churches, assisting the homeless population at the Seattle Gospel Mission and removing evasive species from a public park.
Siyanda told us that these experiences reminded him that,
“We all have to do something for our community regardless of [our] position because everything happening in it touches all of us. This is exactly what I want my community to do. We all have roles to play in making this world a better place.”
Volunteering not only makes a difference for the communities and organizations where the students volunteer, it also contributes to students’ learning and makes a difference in their own lives. Siyanda said he especially enjoyed activities that gave him “an opportunity to learn, see and experience American culture,” and that “volunteering at a pow wow made me understand American history and culture.” You can read more about his experiences in his blog, “Seeing a Salamander.”
Lerato completed most of her volunteer work on campus at Edmonds Community College and said this was a great way to interact with different people on campus. From this, Lerato says:
“I learned the true meaning of what a student body is, and with the experience I have gained from volunteering I am going to start a revolution in my college back home, teach the students the importance of volunteering and keep it fun.”
We asked these outstanding students to give advice for our current students. Lerato’s advice was clear and emphatic,
“Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! There is no better place to enhance your people skills, leadership skills and serve the community at the same time and it is fun too. Volunteering also helps one find them self, since you really get the chance to discover yourself in the process.”
Siyanda said that he would,
“Encourage [NWCCI students] to get involved with volunteering, since it doesn’t only give an opportunity to earn volunteer hours as a program requirements, but it will open up their eyes and nurture their minds. On top of that, it is the easiest and best way to meet and make friends.”
Noor was perhaps the most candid,
“Volunteering is a great experience,” he says. “Please try to remain busy in the community throughout the year. It won’t pay you anything, but you can cheer yourself thinking that you have made a difference.”
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.