Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's more like being volun-told...

Day 14 -- Prompt: Is volunteering something you do regularly? If yes, where do you volunteer? If not, why not? Courtesy of Kassie @ bravelyobey.blogspot.com.

Hmm. This is an interesting question because my initial gut reaction to this question was, "Uhm. ::long pause:: Hmmm. ::thinking:: Um. No, no I really don't volunteer anywhere... is that ... is that something I should be doing? ::thinking:: Hmm."

And then I realized something. I volunteer a LOT of my time, but it's in the context of my actual non-volunteer career.

I am my school's Speech and Debate coach. While I do get a small coaching stipend for this job, it's not really enough to cover the sheer number of hours I spend on the weekends of tournaments supervising kids, judging, coaching, and helping. I do the things that a parent might do volunteering for their kids' school. Last year, for example, I served as a judge at the California State Speech and Debate Tournament -- and this was completely voluntary, given that none of my students were actually competing at this tournament.

I am also the teacher advisor for my school's Science Olympiad team, and this is not a stipend job. I volunteer my lunches when they need my room for a meeting, I've volunteered at least one evening a year so that they can have a parent meeting, and I collect forms and money and such to pass on to the parent volunteers who actually run the times.

And speaking of Science Olympiad, I also actually run one of the events at the regional competition, and, as I'm writing this, I realize this is probably the biggest volunteer endeavor I take on each year. I run an event called Write It, Do It, which involves technical writing and building something following directions. I competed in this event when I was a Science Olympian in high school, and now that my high school coach is one of the regional big-wigs here in San Diego, she recruited me a few years ago.

I've been doing WIDI now for three years -- this year will be the fourth year, I think, that I've done it. And every year I get a little bit better at doing it. But this, out of all the things I do, is truly a labor of love. It takes HOURS to prepare for.

See, there's this little detail: San Diego has the biggest regional Science Olympiad competition in the United States; each year, we have in the neighborhood of 75 teams from the middle school and 75 from the high school. So, 150 teams worth of kids (each team consists of 15 students...). For me, this means 70+ building kits. I build my "devices" out of those green floral foam blocks and all kinds of wacky materials, like pipe cleaners, straws, toothpicks, quilting pins, beads, paper clips, stickers, and anything else I can buy in bulk cheaply. I have to build at least 8 copies of the original device, and then I have to make enough kits for each team that has signed up to compete in the event.

This takes DAYS.

I'm not kidding.


And then the day of the competition (which, actually, here in San Diego, is now two different days, the middle school and high school competitions happening separately. Kinda sorta because of my event. Heh), I am there all day, first running the competition and then grading the devices. Thank god for my mom -- she's a trooper. I honestly couldn't -- and wouldn't -- do it without her. Luckily, she loves it as much as I do. Oh, and I also voluntarily wrote a coaching manual a few years ago. So I think this is were I pay my volunteering dues. I'm incredibly supportive of Science Olympiad -- I loved every second of it as a competitor and I feel so lucky to be able to be involved in it now as an adult.

Oh, and I also help with the San Diego Unified's Language Academy Spelling Bee! I've been the Wrong Answer Bell Ringer for three years running and have already signed up for my fourth! It's awesome. I do it to help my friend Summer, but it's really just a delightfully exciting evening. Except I always have to be the dream squasher. Haha. But it's a fun way to support programs in other places.

So there. I guess maybe I volunteer more than I think I do, I guess it just doesn't quite meet the connotation of "volunteering" that even I think of when people mention volunteer work.

1 comment: