Throughout their semester in the United States, students on the Global UGRAD Program become increasingly involved in their host communities through a variety of volunteer activities. Here are some highlights from community service events that they have completed so far!
I would like to share my volunteering experience with the Islamic Center of Victoria, Texas. I had the pleasure to participate in Relay for Life Event. In this incredible day, we cheered cancer survivors and showed them our support. We had multiple tasks, we distributed candies, sweets and food to all people who attended, and played different games in order to have some fun and enjoy our moments. At the end of the day, I gave a motivational speech about how to prevent cancer and how to support people with cancer. I have learned from my experience that life is beautiful, and that cancer is not an obstacle, it is actually a doorway to see life differently. Even if somebody has cancer, we should support them and do our best to get rid of it “together.” I am honored to participate in this amazing event, and I wish I could do more for this friendly community. “Cancer is hard, but we can fight it together.”
Written by Chahinez Latifa Ailas, Algeria, University of Houston-Victoria
Starting from the first days of volunteering there, I just loved everything. Meeting staff and other student students, talking to them, preparing and cooking meals together was a huge experience. First of all, I learned that everyone can make an impact on society while studying or working. Even if it is a small effort, it is still worthwhile. Secondly, I learned some cooking techniques to make meals for large groups of people. We prepared a hot community meal for residents of Kentway Apartments. Kentway is a subsidized housing unit that serves individuals age 55 and older. Right after the cooking shift, I came to this place with other students. We set the tables for residents of apartments. They are kind people; we served them drinks and food. After the dinner they came to thank and hug us. Sometimes it is too emotional, it makes you feel happy and sad at the same time. I learned that by doing all these service activities we can still save humanity, kindness, and mercy among people no matter how difficult it is in our modern digital world.
Written by Iskandar Sulaymonov, Uzbekistan, Kent State University
As a volunteer leader, it’s you who can change things. You can encourage other people, engage and motivate them to grow, and become a source of inspiration. Being a volunteer is good for the heart and for the soul, but it’s even better being a volunteer in another country, for other people, and for another culture. It really makes you reflect on things. For example, I used to believe that U.S. was perfect, but they have needs too and if you are an international student, you can use this opportunity to bring a new perspective and teach them a new method of doing things. So far, I have been a volunteer for organizations like Backyard Harvest, which grows fruits and vegetables from a local garden of people in Lewiston and then donates to the food banks. Also, I volunteered with the Community Action Partnership, a non-profit organization that helps educate the public about poverty, as well as take action to prevent it. Sometimes people ask me, how can you do it? It’s simple, as Schweitzer once said, “wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.” My best advice is: 1) Find a team to work with, 2) Use your talent and be creative 3) Find a cause that means something for you.
Written by Michelle Bernier Zavala, Venezuela, Lewis-Clark State College