I am now in the middle of completing my second year in the Concurrent Education program at Queen’s University. When I first arrived in Kingston, Ontario in September 2017, I decided to volunteer in order to help others and learn more about my new community. I became a Peer Buddy in the Best Buddies University chapter that paired me with an older adult with an intellectual disability. I meet with my buddy once a week, and go out for coffee, sporting events, movies, walks, etc. I have found this to be a truly inspiring experience since I am able be a friend, offer company and enjoy spending time with more individuals in the community. Since my buddy is non-verbal, I was able to gain a greater appreciation of people who have to use alternative methods to communicate.
I also became a member of the Kaleidoscope club, which paired me with two at-risk elementary school students in Kingston. I visit my buddies individually for an hour a week. When I visit, I spend about half the time helping them with academic work, and the other half doing fun activities such as making crafts, playing board games and playing in the gym or outside. Each week I look forward to visiting my buddies and spending time with them.
Looking back, some of my volunteer experiences were definitely highlights, and I believe the same will be true going forward. These opportunities have both inspired me and further confirmed my dream of becoming a teacher and educating others. I highly encourage any university student, or anyone for that matter, to explore the volunteer opportunities available in their community. There are many different ways for us to do good things in our lives. After all, giving feels better than receiving.