As an MM student, it’s easy to get bogged down by the academic workload or our personal job-hunts, but taking the time to get together as a cohort and be present in our community is something many of us felt was important. There have been countless bar nights and study sessions that I have shared with my classmates, however, my favorite cohort experiences have been the three volunteer opportunities organized by our VP Internal, Sarah Maciejewski.
The first volunteer opportunity we took on was a trip to Ronald McDonald House BC, where a group of MM students, joined by Chris Gorczynski (MM Program Manager) and Margot Fraser (MM Program Assistant, spent a few hours giving back. As a group we organized (by every colour of the rainbow) and sanitized what must have been millions of pieces of donated Lego! This may sound tedious (it was!), but having the opportunity to give back to the community in which we study, work, and play, was really rewarding. While sorting the Lego, we were met by many curious young faces wondering what we were doing with their toys. We also chatted with parents who were happy to pass along thanks for our involvement with the house, which only made the whole experience that much more memorable.
Our next volunteering day was spent sorting yet again, but this time it was less reminiscent of childhood playtime cleanup! A group of seven MM students and I spent an afternoon sorting cans, produce, and other donated foods at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. We had a surprising amount of fun doing this together and while we only made a dent in the masses of food at the warehouse, by the end of the day we managed to pack away a significant amount of food to be sent to families in need.
The third and final volunteering session we participated in as a cohort was the Shoreline Cleanup at beautiful Kits Beach. You could not ask for a better location to spend a morning. We are spoiled to live in this spectacular place and it’s easy to forget the impact we have on our environment. Maintaining the shores of this spectacular landscape was an invaluable experience. We later rewarded our efforts by relaxing as a group at the beach, playing a bit of soccer, and a few of us (not me!) ventured into the chilly ocean for a swim!
I didn’t seek out many volunteering opportunities during my undergraduate like I should have. I went to Ronald McDonald House BC for our first volunteering session thinking I was simply going to spend time with my classmates. I left that day with a sense of accomplishment and an excitement for the next volunteering opportunity. A bit of advice for the Class of 2017: if you haven’t volunteered much before and don’t know the impact it can have on you personally, don’t think for a second your other priorities are more important to your success! Volunteering didn’t make me worry that I didn’t use the time to secure a job, it made me more motivated and inspired in my other initiatives. Spending time away from your notes, projects, and job hunt is not only important for your well-being, but if volunteering is how you choose to spend that time, you can have a positive impact on the world around you, and THAT is time well spent.
– Lauren O’Sullivan