When some Tech students think of community service, they think of club requirements or court orders. Not too many students think of volunteering as a favored way to spend our limited free time. However, I have found through my involvement in community service that there are few activities that are more fulfilling and fun than volunteering. I have been heavily involved in community service since I was a freshman, primarily with the student organization MOVE, of which I am now the president. I want to share with you a few of the reasons that you should get involved in community service during your time at Tech.
Community service is a fantastic way to make new friends with your fellow volunteers. Maybe you are interested in addressing homelessness, so you decide to attend a construction project with an organization that builds houses. You now have the opportunity to spend a few hours working alongside other students who are interested in homelessness as well. At some point while you are working, I guarantee that you will make at least one new friend while you discuss your common interests. Alternatively, community service can be viewed as a great way to strengthen friendships with people you already know. If you are a member of a club or a team, I encourage you to serve together with the members of your organization. If you and your teammates spend time together working towards the common goal of helping others, you will form bonds on a deeper level than if you spent that time just hanging out. Whether you serve with old friends or new friends, community service is a lot of fun.
Volunteering allows you to engage in your community. You will become more aware of what is around you—it’s the perfect way to break the Tech bubble and truly experience living in Atlanta. You will learn volumes from the people with which you interact. For me, community service puts the stress and pressures of Tech into perspective. I may have to worry about my biochemistry test next week, but at least I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from. Community service forces me to think about someone other than myself for at least a small period of time. And that comes with all of the warm fuzzies that you expect.
Community service will help you develop personally. I have learned how to be adaptable. I have developed my leadership abilities. I have broadened my perspectives. I have learned how to interact with people from all walks of life, from children living below the poverty line to homeless men and women, to teenagers with developmental disabilities. Volunteering will make you well rounded and give you experiences that you can draw on for your benefit in your professional and personal lives.
Beyond the reasons that I have listed above, there are a plethora of reasons to volunteer that are specific to an individual. For some, it is a way to get hands-on experience with a topic that he/she may be addressing through his/her research or policy work. For me, the reason involves my faith: I recognize the blessings that I have been given, and I want to use them to be a blessing to other people. Whatever your reason may be for getting involved with service, actively pursue the opportunities available to you to volunteer.
The great thing about being a Tech student is that it is incredibly easy to become involved in volunteering. Not only are there more places to serve in Atlanta than you can count, but Tech makes them readily accessible to students. We have an Office of Community Service that will help you to get connected with a student organization or community agency that shares your service interests. Contact Tech’s community service coordinator, Sarah Perkins ([email protected]) to take the next step in getting involved in service. Additionally, if you are interested in a student organization that participates in all kinds of community service, you can sign up for MOVE’s email list at move.gatech.edu.