How to be a great volunteer

Without the ambitious and caring HOOP volunteers from all over the globe, HOOP could not fullfill its vision and dream of breaking the cycle of poverty in the community of Flora Tristan through education. The 5th of December marks International Volunteer Day and to celebrate this special day and our volunteers, we will dedicate the whole of December to the topic of volunteering. Today’s blog post is about how to be a great volunteer.

1. Be open-minded and flexibleA lot of our volunteers are very good at planning and scheduling, because this is what they are used to from their home country. However, living in a developing country often means that local cultures, infrastructure and timekeeping can be very different to what you are used to, so plans can often change from one minute to the next. In such moments great volunteers will remain calm and show flexibility. There is often no point in being angry or disappointed about those things, so you will have to make the best out of the situation. An open mind is one of the best characteristics a volunteer can have.

2. Be committed
Being a volunteer can use up a lot of energy. For example during the day you may help with the projects and at night there might be a fundraising party, you would like to discover your new home town, or just hang out with all the other HOOP volunteers. The day of a volunteer can be very long and tiring. Volunteering is certainly not a walk in the park and you shouldn’t start your placement thinking it will be. It requires just as much dedication and energy as any other job does.

3. Be curiousIn a new country or even a different continent it is always fun to discover new things. As a volunteer it is therefore almost impossible to not bring a huge load of curiosity, because that is the secret ingredient to bring new ideas to a developing country. It is just how Bernard Baruch once said: “Curiosity! Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.”

4. Be imaginativeDo you remember your favourite teacher? It was probably one with a wild imagination and a better way to teach the subject to you than all the other teachers ever could. It is always amusing and fun to listen to and be around someone who can see things from a different angle and who is not scared to do something crazy. So if you are going to start a teaching volunteer position, try and use all of your imagination and creativity in the classroom, and you will probably find that the kids will give you all of their attention in return.

5. Be selflessAs Ronald Reagan once said: “We can´t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” As a volunteer you will probably want to travel and see as much of your new home as possible. However, you should also remember that you have committed your time to a certain cause, so the priority of each volunteer should always be the passion for the project and its vision. It goes without saying that we love the selflessness of our HOOP volunteers. They are sacrificing their energy and time without expecting anything in return. Our volunteers are happy with the rewarding work they are doing every day, and for that we and the families they work with will be forever grateful.

Written and photo by Charlette Voss

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