Last night I was sitting down for dinner at a restaurant with 4 other women, all of these women were at least 30 years older than me and it got me thinking. Where are all the young volunteers?
When looking at the VSA volunteers there is a clear age gap. I am the youngest by about 5 years and after that, the next is about 14 years older than me. There is a large proportion of the volunteers over 55. Even the youngest AVI (the Australian equivalent to VSA) that I know is still 4 years older than me. But why?
The median age in Timor Leste is, according to Wikipedia, as follows:
total: 18.8 years
male: 18.2 years
female: 19.4 years (2016 est.)
This is a really young median age for a country. This is largely because of how many people lost their lives in the crisis years. Since independence and the end of the invasions the population has been building back up but that’s a whole nother story. Maybe it’s just me but I think such a young population would benefit immensely from working with other youth or youth focused companies.
I understand that with many volunteering positions years of experience is needed which usually comes with age, but there are also many cases where it’s not. Such as my case. I am a part of VSA’s univol program which encourages younger people to volunteer as less of a specialist skill is needed compared to the normal ones. Even at the interviews for the univol program there were no where near as many people as I thought there would be. There’s only about 5 current univols and I know there are many more students out there working in a job that they are much too qualified for. So many people graduate then go work in a supermarket or something because they can’t find a job more related to their degree. Volunteering can give so much experience to help with a job and just life in general. It would certainly benefit you more than working at a supermarket checkout, even if you ended up at a supermarket in a foreign country you would grow so much as a person!
I think this is the perfect time to get out of our wee New Zealand bubble and do some exploring whilst also helping those that need it. Doing something like this before beginning to settle down into a career etc. is perfect for me. I get to travel and gain life experience while starting to figure out who I am and what path I might want to take. Of course I want to travel more with time, but I think this is a great way to spend a gap year- taking a break from study but also getting experience in what may be my future field.
I know I’m only 2 months in but I already know this is one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. It certainly wasn’t the easiest decision but I know I will make so many memories, friends and achieve so much over my time here.
Also, I have decided that Sunday evening will be my time to post so look out for posts on Sunday’s. I will try post one a week but I also don’t want to pressure myself into posting something I am not happy with just so there is content. Happy Easter!