When You Help Others, You Help Yourself 

How working with JCU Community Service broadened my perspective on volunteering. 

Student Commentary

By Matilde Pozzato / Matthew Staff || Edited by Bronte Delmonico

Photo by Kat Smith

Since attending JCU in the Fall of 2020, every week I have received emails from the JCU Community Service office listing opportunities to engage in volunteering activities. But, for the first two years, I hardly read those emails and discarded the activities as something that was not for me. However, in the fall of 2022, as I began looking for a master’s degree and trying to understand how to build a solid application, I noticed that schools are extremely interested in students who engage in volunteering activities. While I ended up on the JCU Community Service website for the first time because I was trying to look appealing for grad schools, little did I know that what I thought would be a boring requirement would become one of the best parts of my week. 

After meeting Julia Del Papa, the coordinator of the JCU Community Service, I found the activity that best suits me: tutoring Italian students in English. In particular, I got the opportunity to tutor an elementary school student in English and Italian. I now meet with this student only once a week via Google Meet, but, since the very first meeting, that hour became a precious part of my routine. To me, tutoring means so much more than teaching her how to spell the days of the week. It means being someone that she can count on. Julia explained to me that the most important part of the project is being consistent in meeting once a week at the same time to create a routine for the student, and for me to become someone that they can count on for more than just school. It is important to check in with them, make sure that everything is going well at home, at school, and in their life, and be there if they want to talk or need to ask for help. 

 I want to go as far as to say that I have had the opportunity to be a role model and the responsibility of having a 9-year-old who looks up to me. As I hope she is learning from me, I for sure am learning from her and from this experience. My student is very chatty and so we often drift off as she tells me about her day and her friends, and in those moments, I have the privilege of seeing the world through the eyes of a kid again, which is something I think every grown-up should do every now and then (even those who are new at adulthood like me). 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, volunteering consists of offering to do something that you do not have to do, and even if I might not have started this journey on the most honorable grounds, this experience set me on the right track to appreciating community service and seeing how it has asked me very little and given back so much. As of now, I can’t imagine a life in which I never gave out something without expecting anything in return if I have the possibility to do so. In my romanticized view of the universe, it is only fair to give a bit of our time to people who need it and we will soon notice how helping others makes us happier with our lives.