Engage

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Just last week, the programme which we designed from scratch to teach Primary School students about being more aware about their emotions and to enrich them with a better understanding of their emotions came to an end- our trained Volunteer Leaders stood in front of classrooms leading classes of students in the games and in small group reflections, we spontaneously adapted classroom management skills and leaving with bright smiles on our faces, the team and our Volunteer Leaders were satisfied.

It was an overwhelming feeling to be thanked repeatedly by teachers and children and Volunteers for the experience that had been created and the satisfaction of finally delivering a programme that had months of behind-the-scenes work is almost impossible to describe. But I guess this tinge of excitement, adorned with pleasant surprises and joy from the little things that happened is the reason why I enjoyed this initiative so much and definitely the reason why I continue to volunteer in more initiatives to come and more volunteer opportunities I can find.

There is self-discovery in every opportunity of serving others besides oneself– and this time, I have learned the power of engagement. Over the course of planning and training and executing, the one thing we could never completely prepare ourselves for was the classroom management style because every kid’s learning and every classroom’s atmosphere is necessarily different. Some kids learn better just listening, others have to write to understand and there are those who don’t really get it until you actually make them try it; so the challenge was to engage while standing before an entire classroom or even facilitating group discussions in a group of students with completely different personalities. And the key, I learned, was to connect at a level that they understand and they feel for. It’s easier said than done- as I watched Volunteer Leaders stand before the class for the first time, I could only recall and imagine the first time I did so, heart palpitating and cold sweat running down the sides of my face, which flushed.

It really is a skill to show people you truly care and you really understand, to make them feel connected and bring a relationship of trust that allows you to best offer them what you know, it’s challenging to engage and I’m glad this opportunity put us all in a position where we learned to.

I have little else to say except that I hope to find myself standing in front of a group of volunteers or a class of students like I have in the course of this initiative again, working hard to engage.

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