Monday, October 23, 2017
Interview by: Sophie Maffie
September 22, 2017
Q: What kind of positive experiences bring volunteers back to work at United Citizen Power? What encourages people to keep volunteering?
A: I think what keeps people coming back and our volunteers to enjoy the work, is that it [volunteering] is more than just tasks. Positive experiences come from sharing your perspective on the work that you are doing as a volunteer. Being able to actually be part of the decisions that are being made and getting asked how you feel about things is important. We value our volunteers opinions regarding if we should go with a certain strategy and what might work better. Again, we really just value what our volunteers are thinking, how their experiences are, and how we can make their experience better. I think that's probably the biggest reason why we have people so engaged. We want to build relationships that are not just simple transactions. More so, we want to help volunteers grow as organizers and adapt the skills they are learning while volunteering to different parts of their life.
"Volunteers who not only listen, but also help guide [our organization] in other ways is very important since we all have different talents."
Q: What do you most appreciate about students who volunteer?
A: I appreciate just all of the positive energy and willingness to really go out and do stuff out of your comfort zone, even if it's a little bit hard the first time. Being able to learn and being open is really valuable. So for me, I appreciate people willing to take the time to step out of their comfort zone. Volunteers who not only listen, but also help guide [our organization] in other ways is very important since we all have different talents.
Q: Why do you think students volunteer in the first place?
A: I think that people volunteer in the first place because we realize the kinds of privilege we have. Oberlin students display a willingness to learn and really be apart of the community. Being able to add that extra layer of ways you can empower yourself and help empower the community you live in and are living in is really important. I think that one of the main draws of being able to connect with the community, and being able to empower yourself. Students also just care in general about other people and people's life experiences. I would say students volunteer due to a mixture of personal experience and a willingness to learn and really dive into the community we live in.
Q: What is the perfect Oberlin volunteer experience youve had as a community organizer?
A: I don't see something as a perfect experience. We have successful volunteer experiences where everything goes well but we are always learning. It is always exciting to engage community members who have probably never been engaged before. We want to build relationships with the community. Successful experiences are when volunteers get excited and everything we practice we are able to utilize outside of the college. Experiences like we have had this year together shows me you are building relationships and growing as leaders.
Q: What characters of Oberlin students make them successful volunteers?
A: Oberlin students are great volunteers. One of the main characteristics is really being excited and a willingness to listen on both ends. Being genuine and curious about what another person has experienced, working together to become better organizers and better student leaders is also really important. For me, a lot of Oberlin students have a high level of maturity, particularly freshmen. It all goes back to a willingness to listen and learn, but also the willingness to share that with me. Again, there is just like, a genuine curiosity to learn. While volunteering, we all do a little so we can do a lot as an organization. We help support each other.
"We are building relationships with the community, which is another form of empowerment."
Q: Is volunteering a form of empowerment?
A: Yes. The way we empower students is by allowing creativity to come into the work we are do. Having control over something, having your ideas being taken seriously, and then executing your ideas is a form of empowerment. We are building relationships with the community, which is another form of empowerment.
Oberlin College 2018 | Contact Us