In today’s competitive school and work environment, schools and companies seek out employees who are well-rounded; that is, people who have a balanced lifestyle. Part of this includes community involvement. An engaged personality reflects well on all aspects of life, and volunteering is a huge way of being engaged in the community.
I’m not going to criticize the merits of volunteerism or the people who do it genuinely, but I do have an issue with mandated volunteering. The very root of the word volunteering derives from the word voluntary, an action you do because you genuinely want to do it. How much more ironic an oxymoron can you get from necessary volunteering? When schools mandate volunteering, they do so with good intentions; however, once you force students to engage in activities they wouldn’t otherwise intuitively take part in, you can’t call it volunteering anymore. No teenager has a brain so well-developed and a heart so beautiful that they want to volunteer. It’s not nice to say, but it’s true; at that age, volunteering is one of the last things a student would want to do. So when students are forced to engage in the community, don’t call it volunteering; it insults the nature of volunteerism, which is always done voluntarily. Call it community service, call it active engagement, call it what you will, but don’t call it volunteering, because it couldn’t be further from it.
Again, I’m not saying that volunteering is bad. I’m not even saying that making students volunteer is bad; I’m of the opinion that it’s a great way to get them involved in the community and learn new things and people while making the world a better place. My sole problem is with still calling it volunteering when it’s forced on you; when it ceases to be voluntary, it’s not volunteering. It irks me to see students who volunteer greatly refer to it as that: volunteering. Any student volunteering in large quantities is doing it in the loosest sense of the word; at the heart of their seemingly good-natured behavior is some way to improve their status in some way. I really believe that students who volunteer a great deal are doing it only so they can get recognition from schools or so it boosts their resume. They’re not doing it because they want to better the world, which is the essence of volunteering; they’re doing it to make themselves look better.
Some students may contradict me. Still, I think they’ll know in their heart of hearts that I’m speaking the truth here. When you take things back to the roots and consider the meaning of volunteering, what they do today cannot and should not be considered as volunteering. So please, continue to boast of your community involvement, but don’t construe it to be something it isn’t. However, if someone can prove my idea wrong, then I’d hold all the respect in the world for them. My thesis here may be cynical and pessimistic on a subconscious level, but such is the world. So if you can prove me wrong, please do; the world will be a better place for it.