Reflecting Woke Me Up

by Amanda ZhouVolunteer Group Facilitator

I first joined Student Open Circles as a weekly volunteer for the breakfast program at Dr. Davey School in downtown Hamilton. I was in my first year, eager to seize any opportunity that would allow me to be involved in the McMaster and Hamilton community. I applied for the volunteering position because I enjoyed working with children and it fit my schedule. 

At first, I didn’t really understand the significance of reflecting after volunteering each week: so we met for 15 minutes to do activities, debrief, and talk, and that was supposed to make me a better volunteer/person? However, the more sessions I attended, the more I appreciated these 15 minutes. Through these reflections, I built strong bonds with people who volunteered with me, which made the weekly task fun and enjoyable. Through these reflections, I learned what our work at the school meant to the children and their families, which made me a more committed volunteer. Through these reflections, I discussed social problems with others, which made me more aware of what was happening around me.

I valued these reflections so much that I decided to become a facilitator for the weekly group that volunteers at Conway Opportunity Homes for adults who live with disability. Being a facilitator has allowed me to learn more about Student Open Circles. In addition to holding reflection activities for my fellow volunteers, I get to participate in biweekly leadership training meetings and other reflection circle activities. These programs allow me to take some time to just focus on my values, to breathe despite the chaos of university life. They also allow me to pay attention to existing social problems and reflect on how to resolve these issues. Before, I wouldn’t even bother going on news websites and reading about what’s happening around me. Student Open Circles has transformed me into a person who is more willing to learn, care, and give. It gave me the will and courage to make changes.