Students making a difference as volunteers: "Nice to know how much you can mean to others"

28 February 2023 |

Student life is much more than clichés like hanging out at the ‘Overpoort’ every night. A lot of students selflessly dedicate themselves to a charity or other organization. We asked Silke, Charlotte and Amber why they sacrifice their free time to volunteer.

Vrijwilliger Silke

Silke (22): “"You get a lot of enthusiasm back from the children”

Silke is a physics student and a member of JVS Gentster, the youth work group of Armand Pien Public Observatory: "Every two weeks, on Saturday evening, we organize an activity for 12- to 18-year-olds. From a lecture to an astronomically focused game. In case of good weather, we go upstairs to look through the telescopes."

“"I discovered astronomy myself six years ago when I became a member here. Since the beginning of last year, I have been helping to organize a youth course. We try to teach young people some basic knowledge before they join JVS Gentster. You get a lot of enthusiasm back from the children when you tell or teach them something new, like pointing the telescope at a certain planet."

"I am trying to slowly phase out my volunteer work and am looking for a successor. But after my studies, I would like to work full-time at the Observatory. I find it very valuable to pass on scientific knowledge."

Charlotte (21): “You learn a lot about yourself and others”

Charlotte is in her final year of volunteering within the Belgian Medical Student Association (BeMSA). "Next year in the second master of medicine I will start a full-time internship which will make the combination difficult. I'd rather leave the volunteering to a new generation then."

"With BeMSA, we medical students commit to different topics. We try to break stigmas, we do prevention work and we share reliable medical information. For example, we visit high schools to teach about contraception and the concept of consent. I personally think this is a very important topic where there is still a lot of room for better info. Another favourite project of mine is our "living library”. These are moments when we invite people to tell their story: someone with burn marks or people who had cancer as a child. Afterwards, you can ask questions you might not otherwise dare to ask."

Vrijwilliger Charlotte
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"Volunteering forces me to plan and study more efficiently. It's also really nice to know how much you can mean to others. You learn a lot about yourself and others. You can't earn money or study credits with it which allows you to develop yourself completely freely."

Vrijwilliger Amber

Amber (24): “Making a big difference to other people with a small effort”

Amber is a working student in political science and volunteer at Uilenspel: "We provide school guidance to children from vulnerable situations. We teach them math and Dutch and we try to boost their self-confidence."

"We go to their homes because it makes it easier to understand the child's context and to be able to provide other support if needed. I really enjoy when the children are excited to see me again. Also, the appreciation from the parents is really heartwarming."

"I think volunteering is almost essential in a person's life because you can make a big difference to other people with a small effort. The impact you have, is worth much more than that hour of free time during the week."

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