By Manal Kamal (YES 2018 – 2019, Bahrain, hosted by PAX in Olympia, WA)
Due to the pandemic, it has been hard for my community and alumni association to stay engaged and connected. However, getting the opportunity to be a part of the Virtual Alumni Leaders Training (VALT) and the Virtual Volunteering and Staying Connected Webinar helped me grow as a leader. The VALT sessions taught me different ways to stay connected and help my community whether virtually or in real life. The volunteering webinar allowed me to relay the knowledge I gained from VALT to on-program students who want to do more!
While helping facilitate the Virtual Volunteering and Staying Connected Webinar, I had the opportunity to help encourage student engagement during social distancing first hand by discussing virtual community service and volunteering ideas. I also gave participants advice on different approaches and ways to stay connected to their host communities. Engaging with people from all over the world and listening to their ideas broadened my horizons and helped me brainstorm different topics too.
The act of actively giving back is important to me because it makes me feel like a responsible citizen who does good and adds value to the community whether it is my city, my country or the whole world. It helps me reach different people from various backgrounds, learn from them as well as help them. It also helps me hold myself accountable to my actions and learn how they impact my surroundings. Volunteering taught me necessary skills such as time management, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.
Learning about different strategies and tools that could be used in projects helped motivate my passion for community service through allowing me to express my ideas and learning about ways to make them successful. The discussions helped me understand and apply the knowledge to myself and my alumni association in a very fun and engaging way!