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Head of the university's volunteer movement Masha Khoroshilova: “My goal is to change the attitude towards volunteers”

08.10.2021 12:49

Student's life / Views: 246

Masha Khoroshilova, a student from VSU, headed the university volunteer movement in 2019. Now, she is a fourth year student from the Faculty of Geology. She told us about how she became a member of the volunteer movement and the head of the club and fell in love with volunteering, apparently for good.

How she became a volunteer

“I entered the faculty in 2018: that was the year when VSU celebrated its centennial. In the summer, I saw a post on the university page on the VKontakte social networking site which said that volunteers were needed to help hold the celebration. “I’d like to have a go”, I thought. I had to fill in an application form, have an interview, and pass the selection process. And I passed! My job was to meet and see off graduates who finished university 40-50 years ago. They looked so happy!

For the first time in my life, I had to communicate with so many people in a short period of time. For example, I met Dima Kouda, the creator of the Tournament of Three Sciences, and Natasha Bukhvalova, the art director of the university. I had a chance to feel how valuable volunteering is.

When I entered university, I became a student activist. I knew some people from the school for student activists and I just wrote to them saying that I would like to give a helping hand. They said “Come over. Any help would come in handy”. And I joined them. After that, I took part in the First Year Students’ festival and the Students’ Spring festival. In the third year, I participated in the summer school for student activists. I suppose I had a good track record that is why I was appointed as the person in charge of all university’s volunteers. Unfortunately, just after that I was sick with coronavirus. When I recovered a month later, I thought that if I am the person in charge, I have to know a lot. The thing I started with was gaining experience. For example, I took part in the campaign “We are together” in which we brought food to the elderly people who could not leave their homes because of the raging pandemic. I studied the peculiarities of social volunteering and understood that that was not enough. I tried various activities and in February 2020 we started to recruit new volunteers. Now, I have 106 people but the skeleton staff is 50 people. This is the way it works in any university society. I would like to thank Alexandra Nazarova, Natalia Bukhvalova, Ekaterina Matukhina, Igor Kotok, and Irina Ryabykh for their trust and support. Many things would have been impossible without them.

About the goal

My goal is to change the attitude towards volunteers. Volunteers are not free labourers. We also have our personal lives and things we need to do. To do volunteer work, we sometimes have to make sacrifices. We spend our time and expend our energies and get nothing in return. And the reason we do it is not because we have nothing else to do. We often hear: “How is it going with your volunteering? What do you get from it? You have to earn money”. When I hear something like that, I try to show the other sides of volunteering. I try to talk to people to understand what exactly they mean and what exactly they don’t like in this area.

What’s more, not all people try to do something. And for me, it is very important that the majority begin to take their first steps. It is important to learn to motivate them. I would like to pay more attention to them and share my experience.

I was at a forum of the Central Federal District and listened to a speech by Viktoria Druchkova, the founder and CEO of the event studio “Kolibri”. She has been organising student’s Spring festivals in the Penza Region and has been working with volunteers. She could just sit and do nothing: she created the vibe. I would like to be like her.

About motivation

You can’t make people do anything. You can’t say: “You, you, and you, go and sweat your guts out”. They have their own lives, their studies and responsibilities for other people. I can only suggest, provide opportunities. Different people are motivated by different things. For me, it is to try something new. I always learn something new and meet new people. Every person is absolutely unique and sometimes I just fall in love at the first sight. Some people are eloquent speakers, some are always calm, and never shout when stressed out, others are genial and nice to talk to.

The volunteer community is the kindest and the most supporting. And there are no such concepts as “right” or “wrong” in volunteering. We try to develop every idea so that it works. There is no competition in volunteering: we have a problem and we need to solve it, to attract attention and to engage more people.

For me, it is important to make my fellow volunteers understand that they can do anything and that they are needed. And we will help them.

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