Face-Off: Is required volunteer work an enriching experience?
Every year, seniors scramble to secure an LCAP position, NHS members work hard to get volunteer hours, and underclassmen begin to think about ways to get involved or get Harper Promise Hours. Volunteering is a fulfilling activity for some, but not all, students. Many people who volunteer enjoy their experience and like the idea of giving back to the community, but not everyone has the desire or time to volunteer. Crier editors Sarah Yamaguchi, ‘18, and Annika Lafyatis, ‘18, face off to tackle this controversial issue.
Sarah: I think every student should volunteer at some point in their high school career. Volunteering is a great way for a student to try something out of his or her comfort zone and grow as a person. I’m a volunteer at a hospital information desk, and interacting with so many people has taught me skills I wouldn’t have learned in another setting. When I started, I was scared to make a mistake, but after getting some experience, I’ve learned that mistakes happen, and although they’re embarrassing, they’re not the end of the world.
Annika: I’m not against all volunteering, but the idea of having “required” volunteer work for graduation and even clubs seems hypocritical to me. You’re not really committing acts of charity if you’re obligated to do them.
Sarah: Well, it’s true that if someone really doesn’t want to be doing volunteer work, they might not get the same fulfillment as someone who’s more enthusiastic, but they might be surprised at how much they actually enjoy volunteering once they’ve given it a try. There are so many different places to volunteer at, and with a little research, everyone can find something they like to do.
Annika: But making volunteering a graduation requirement might take the joy out of volunteering. With so many students trying to find opportunities for LCAP, it’s inevitable that not everybody will end up with their first choice. If their service work is seen as a chore, students might drag their feet and not do a good job. It would be better if students sought out opportunities independently, so they could do things they actually cared about.
Sarah: Somehow, I get the feeling that not many students would ever get around to looking for volunteer opportunities on their own – after all, who doesn’t procrastinate sometimes? By giving a deadline and requirements, schools can help the process along so that students actually end up volunteering. The LCAP program, for example, gives seniors a list of places to volunteer and facilitates the process so that students just need to make a phone call or attend an interview to secure a volunteer spot.
Annika: It’s not difficult for Conant students to opt-in to volunteering opportunities, though. Student Council, Service Club, and other clubs all have many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Even AP Environmental Science requires “environmental field hours,” or volunteer hours, as part of the class. These are good ways for service-oriented students to try new things. But students who are already very involved, like multi-sport athletes, would be less stressed if they didn’t have to worry about requirements imposed by the school.
Sarah: The school’s requirement is actually very accommodating of students’ busy lives. The 20-hour requirement may seem like a lot, but it is meant to be spread over the course of a semester. In addition, students have the opportunity to choose which semester they fulfill their LCAP requirement. Realistically, no student is so busy that they don’t have time for 20 hours of volunteering during the school year.
Annika: I think all the individual attempts from clubs, classes, and the district itself to encourage volunteering are well-intentioned, but I’ll never concede my points. All the requirements together are unfairly overwhelming for a busy, well-rounded student.