By Ghada Gad
When I first came to Canada, everyone was talking about volunteering. Mostly all my friends recommended that I volunteer. But why? I didn’t understand. I used to volunteer back home, however, it was not as emphasized as much as it is here.
Volunteering in Canada gives you the opportunity to remain active and participate in society and give back to your community. It is so ingrained in Canadian society to “give back” that even high school students in Ontario cannot graduate unless they complete 40 hours of “community engagement.” Additionally, 79% of Canadians actively volunteering every day in their communities.
I decided to volunteer and asked my friends where I should start. They advised me to start volunteering in my kid’s school. So, I visited my son’s elementary school and applied to volunteer along with my application for a police check clearance, which was required. I went there in the morning and helped kids to read with story books. I loved it and felt very happy to connect with the little kids and help them with their reading and get connected with the school community.
I also volunteered every Saturday to spend time assisting in some sessions for the kids with special abilities. This was such a beautiful experience that made me aware of many things about Canadian culture.
Newcomers benefit greatly In Canada, you can include your volunteer experience on your resume and that counts as valuable “Canadian work experience.” I certainly learned about Canadian workplace and organizational culture and developed some new skills when I volunteered! I also left with positive Canadian references from people, which I used when interviewing for jobs.
Volunteering will help you to improve your language skills and practice English. The best school for English is real life! It will also help you meet new people and expand your social network and help you easily make new friends in your new home country.
Finally, volunteering will make you happy, the more you give the happier you will become. Maybe that’s why a lot of Canadians volunteer! I encourage you to try it!