News Article

Student Voices: My Volunteering Journey

In the joy of others lies our own.

As a child, volunteering was culturally defined to me as a form of seva. A ‘selfless’ form of service that is performed without any expectation or personal gain. My passion towards service in my childhood was largely attributed to my upbringing. 

Growing up, my father taught me that it’s good to serve and care for others. I remember trying to follow my father’s footsteps. Engaging in all kinds of service projects, whether this was at school, in my local community, or at the temple. Following my father’s example, I served food at the temple. I offered to take tourists’ photos and I even remember shaving off my eyebrow in an attempt to use a razor, because I wanted to be more like him (What? I didn’t say following his path always resulted in great accomplishments!) These experiences did result in lessons though. Lessons of humility and finding a win in other people’s wins. 

It’s quite hard to put into words the joy you experience when you make a difference, when your actions are having a positive impact on another. There’s something hugely rewarding about choosing to serve for the interest of others, it truly empowers us.

When I was in high school, I continued volunteering but it became something I was expected to do. I found myself chasing hours and mindlessly doing reflections. I had high standards for myself, I expected myself to put on the best projects, aiming to receive an award, get into university and expecting that this would fulfil my sense of altruism. I realised that in all of this, there was a personal gain associated. I started questioning whether I was truly performing seva then?

When COVID hit and the world was turning upside down, I found myself feeling angry, guilty and helpless. I had put in so much time and work into service projects that now seemed pointless. No successful accomplishments. No results. It’s so easy to get frustrated and lose patience over minor inconveniences. Any transgression of personal comfort.

In hindsight, I had got so caught up ticking boxes and fulfilling requirements that I forgot to experience the journey. I forgot to find the joy in simply trying to make a difference. I forgot that maybe we inspired someone else to serve. I forgot that there were people I’ve never met who my volunteering may have had a positive impact on.  

During Student Volunteering Week and beyond, I hope that we can come together to celebrate volunteering and recognise that in the joy of others, lies our own.

Student Volunteering Week runs from 13th – 19th February. You can find out about student-led Volunteering opportunities at KCLSU here.


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