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What I Discovered About Myself by Choosing to Volunteer by Sneha Pai

By Volunteer Sneha Pai, FHI Bangalore

I joined Fly Higher in February, 2020 – just a month before the country went into lockdown. I must have attended just two of their events, and wasn’t half as lucky as many others who have savoured the wholesome experience (as shared by some of the volunteers who I got a chance to interact with in my last few projects) as a FHI volunteer. By April 2020, just like the rest, we at FHI had also fully switched to virtual-working. The FHI team put tremendous efforts in keeping their activities relevant and us connected with our roles and responsibilities as a volunteer. This virtual engagement brought me much closer to FHI’s goals and beliefs. Now, I already feel like a part of FHI’s core family although I am yet to meet a lot of my fellow volunteers face-to-face.

After working with a corporation for about 10 years, a pleasant turn of events in my personal life urged me to take a break and give volunteering a chance mostly because that is how I could best enjoy the liberty of committing my time and skills towards someone at my will and convenience. And fortunately, I chanced upon FHI. In just a few months of volunteering, one thing that struck a chord with me is how I began treating my work more like a ‘labour of love’ and stopped attaching it with any kind of a reward. It gave me an insight into how I functioned when the element of reward/gain was detached from a service that I rendered. I slowly began to realise that I did feel more enriched and fulfilled with this small contribution. I learnt that not everything that I do or experience should have to be about I am benefiting from it. And in hindsight, I discovered how much I have actually gained from this opportunity and in what way. This sense of accomplishment has opened up a lot of new perspectives for me.

Another crucial learning that I gained as a volunteer was the importance of ‘community.’ This community is us and it can thrive only because of us. If each one of us believed in serving our community in whatever little way we can, it can make a vast difference. When people from different walks of life come together to work in the betterment of their community, each one brings along with them their knowledge, skill sets, and experience which in turn promotes better connection, cooperation, and teamwork. A sincere and successful venture like this builds trust and strengthens the bond in people. Living in a community like these urges one to be kind, compassionate, and look at the world around in a positive light. And this mindset fosters a heightened sense of interdependence within the community which encourages its overall growth. I was happy to be a part of such a committee that was making a difference.

Now when I look back at my one whole year of volunteering, it has been about opening my mind towards a new way of working, contributing my skills, learning new skills, and being there for my team unconditionally. And the lessons I have learned from this approach have made me grow and become more confident. Serving my community and taking responsibility for my actions has been no less than a soul-searching experience for me. And I hope I find the strength to do more.

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