2012 Summer Intern Shares Insights

2012 Summer Intern Shares Insights

What Have We Learned While Volunteering at the Hebrew Home?

Jennifer Chen_8.12The Hebrew Home of Greater Washington volunteer experience can change any type of person into someone more likable and enjoyable. At the Home this summer, student volunteers have said to me, “I learned to be more respectful and caring towards people, because the elderly need that type of attention.”

Many people start to volunteer at the Hebrew Home as quiet individuals, and become more outgoing. I, for one, came to the Home as a girl who only talked with her friends or family around her. For example, at first, I didn’t acknowledge the people who volunteered with me, and I didn’t know how to start a conversation with the elderly. When I was assigned to talk with the residents here, I was a clumsy and tongue-tied girl. As time went on and I started to communicate with more people, conversation became easier, and my words came out more effortlessly. Like my friend Alex says, “I’m now friends with a lot of people because they tell me all about themselves.” As you start talking to the residents, they become your instant friends, too.

Clinton, a 16-year-old student, told me: “I learned to be more patient, because the elderly aren’t as fast as we are!” There are no specific ways to “learn” or “teach” patience. Patience is not something that can be acquired instantly. It can only be grasped as one has the chance to perform it, and at the Home, there are plentiful opportunities to do this. I personally was never the patient type, but now, after volunteering for two months, I’ve learned to control my impatience and turn it into a more positive outlook on life.

Finally, I feel as though I’ve become more independent throughout this whole experience. Instead of other people looking after me and ushering me around, I am fulfilling the job of aiding others. One day, I helped a resident make a necklace, and when she put it on, I felt accomplished and happy. I strive to see if there are any activities where I can be of help, rather than waiting to have others tell me where to go or what to do. I know that fellow volunteer share my thoughts; one recently said to me, “I feel as though I’m more assertive now.”

Working at the Hebrew Home didn’t make me smarter, but it has made me a better person. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Character is higher than intellect.”


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