Why We Volunteer
ELP Volunteer Organizer and Cultural Assistant, Jessica Pinheiro Da Silveira, explains why she volunteers and why you should too.
Every year the English Language Program (ELP) welcomes students from all over the world to the great campus and community of the University of Toronto. Whether you are here for the first time or the fifth time, whether you are here for a month or twelve months, feeling comfortable and welcomed is one of the most important things for a successful experience. ELP provides the students with the opportunity to achieve that sense of belonging both inside and outside the classroom. Although meeting your peers in the classroom is one of the easiest ways to make friends, none of the friends I keep today are the ones I met in the classroom. Being a student in Canada goes beyond the classroom experience; it is about stepping outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, meeting new people and being a part of a community that you help create. For me, the friends I made and the experience I got when I became involved with a community outside of the classroom are what makes this experience so worthwhile. ELP provides social activities every week to ensure that the students can meet other people from different places while doing something fun. When volunteering at the ELP, students participate in activities that provide them with a lot more than the fun of meeting other students. By participating every week in the volunteer meeting, a student gets the chance to meet other fellow volunteers, get to know the volunteer organizers and always be in the loop about the major events happening across the city.
By joining volunteering activities, students can learn so much about this vibrant and multicultural community we have in Toronto with all the rewarding experience that volunteering offers.
The rewards of volunteering go beyond the hours you work or the reference letter you get, it benefits everybody involved. After the volunteering events, the students always come back to the volunteering community that they themselves have created. A community of like-minded people that get together to help each other not only grow academically but also personally and socially. A community that supports each other in going out there and supporting other communities within Toronto. A community I am proud to be a part of.
When I think of volunteering, I think of the students who come out every Wednesday for the meeting. I think of those who don’t mind waking up at 6:00am for those early morning shifts. Those of you who really make a difference. I also think of those who I wish were here, who I know would make our small-knit community even better, those who I know sometimes are too scared to come. To those, I say: ELP has made me part of a community and I know that many students feel the same way. Being part of the volunteering at the ELP was one of the best decisions I made while at the ELP and I hope that you too will make that decision and join us.