Blog en opinie
13 February 2018 • by Fady Mikhail
Be the one who makes a difference
I’m very much involved with volunteer work in my community: for the municipality, UNICEF, the church and, since 2018, for the Netwerk Haagse Helpers, an organisation that encourages young people to engage in social action. This time, I’d like to share my experiences as a volunteer with you.
How it all started
It was the summer of 2015 and I had just been notified that I hadn’t passed my final exams. What a bummer. Well, OK, life has to go on. During that same summer I saw an ad that municipal authorities had placed on Facebook for participating in a ‘city lab’. City lab? Never heard of it. Well, I thought, I’d sign up for it and when the time came I’d decide to go or not. In the end, I went. I wanted to give it a chance.
During one of these city labs, you work with the municipal authorities in testing their policies and giving feedback about various themes like what young people need to graduate from school and how the city can help them achieve this as well as how young people can help the city. A city lab is followed by pizza and the chance to chat with everyone. My feeling afterwards was ‘yes!’ It really got me thinking about what I could do for the community. I hadn’t expected this at all. Well, I hadn’t had any expectations either. Anyway, I started asking around about how I could become involved in things like this. This led me to a contact with the advisor for the Youth Ambassadors for The Municipality of The Hague. And the rest, as they say, is history…
When I tell people I spend time doing volunteer work, they sometimes look surprised. Then they ask me about it and I explain. People my age often use their spare time for a part-time job to earn a little extra. I’m no different. I’ve always had paid part-time jobs, and I know what it’s like to earn a little cash on the side.
Sense of satisfaction
Until the end of 2017, I spent most of my spare time on volunteer work, so I wasn’t earning much money. But this was intentional because I got such a great sense of satisfaction from what I was doing for others. It also taught me about handling money and keeping my costs in check.
Volunteering has given me a lot. For one thing, it’s polished my communication and other soft skills. During social gatherings, for example, I now know how to engage in a discussion: what to do and not to do. I’ve also participated in training activities that had to do with communicating. I’ve met a lot of cool people who work for the city and many others as well. I’ve wound up in some really interesting places where I never would have come otherwise. Places like ministries and memorable meeting places for social gatherings like the Hilton. Since then, I’ve started to use LinkedIn more often to build my network, and it’s working.
I’d advise each of you to do volunteer work. It wouldn’t have to be anything big; every little bit helps. I see it as a win-win situation: you do something for someone else, but you get something out of it, too – acquiring certain skills for example.
Encourage each other to do volunteer work. Be the one who makes a difference. As I look back, I have no regrets about my choice despite the fact that I haven’t had time for part-time jobs and have sometimes had to pass up a nice new pair of sneakers.
I could imagine that some of you might not know how to get started. So I’d be glad to help. Just ask me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Could we meet for a cuppa?
Fady is serving as a Youth Ambassador for The Municipality of The Hague with responsibilities related to education. In this position, he advises both the municipal authorities and other organisations in The Hague and acts as a liaison between young people and the municipal authorities. Fady is also a youth spokesperson for UNICEF, a guest teacher at primary schools and a full-time student in Finance and Control at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.