Rakesh S. Soans, President of FSL – India, recently wrote on the transformation that volunteering brings about in the individual. The article which appeared on Monday, July 8 2013 in the ‘Education Times’, is here republished:
Undoubtedly modern higher education has undergone a radical and unprecedented change in the last few decades. New age learners have diverse learning needs, and the scope and methodology of learning for new millennium learners is immense. Education is all about personal development that imbibes a sense of commitment for community development. Therefore, the description of young learners today tends to focus on acquiring skill, knowledge and information that they might not always learn in the classroom. Community participation is an important dimension of education process which younger generation miss today. The pedagogical analysis reinforces the importance of community participation in the educational cycle of a learner. Therefore, experiential learning, field learning and inter-cultural learning have become an inextricable part of daily life education. Let’s talk about it in the context of India’s current scenario. India’s average age is 24.9. One-sixth of the world population lives in India. Half of the Indian population is the youth – who in the next twenty years will be the decision makers and contribute towards global impact.
Engaging them in a global community for collective learning is supremely important. That’s how the western educational institutions realised its significance and have been encouraging volunteer-based experiential learning. One of the finest instances that can be cited here is how Ivy League Schools in the US are known to send students to Mexico, South America, India and China for promoting community based service learning.
Moreover, this tends to be the qualifying factor for hiring in the corporate world.
In volunteering and community based service learning, students and community people have adequate opportunity to learn from one another. India is one of the leading countries in the world to receive a host of students across the globe in the process of facilitating community based service learning. Students who participate in service learning, gain adequate skills and competencies needed for civic engagement, and consider career options that ultimately lead them to be global social entrepreneurs.
What do the students learn from volunteering? The new age learners are driven by their own curiosity and community involvement, and the learning then becomes interesting and expansive. Their testimonies reveal that through volunteer based service learning they are immensely privileged to learn real life skills needed for global engagement.
Students learn about the new people-based development paradigm and new innovations in the field of education, health, sustainable environment and technology solutions, poverty alleviation, women empowerment, human rights, wildlife and ecology, entrepreneurship, community life and socio-cultural values and what not.
They learn to be tolerant and responsible for oneself and others in the global community.
While volunteering based service learning makes a difference to those who are being served, it also has great benefits for those who provide the service. It gives an opportunity to learn new skills, discover a hidden talent and add to one’s knowledge base. It makes one a lifelong learner. Ultimately, students develop a new perspective and become sensitive towards global progress and collective prosperity.