Volunteering with Great Shape! Inc. is truly an adventure! Perhaps it’s your first time venturing out, on a project, to another country, and/or with a whole group of new people. Perhaps, you’re a well-seasoned humanitarian.
Our blog below is written by Ashley. She joined the SuperKids Literacy Project in 2017 and immediately adapted to the team. Insightful, kind, strong, passionate, humanitarian…The children LOVED her.
As she prepared to leave, Ashley (and some of her new friends, aka volunteers) shared her insight as a new volunteer for the volunteers just arriving for the second week.
What a gift!
Thank you Ashley. We look forward to your continued partnership and working together on future projects.
ASHLEY’S TIPS FOR VOLUNTEERS:
- ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS – Anything you need to know can easily be answered by simply asking. Great Shape! Leadership team is more than willing to provide clarity, advice and recommendations.
- GET TO KNOW YOUR ROOMMATE – These are your new accountability partners. They will make sure you’re awake on time, make sure you don’t miss mandatory meetings and make sure you eat before the buffet closes. Use them and love them.
- WRITE DOWN YOUR SCHEDULE – This is important. It’s so easy to lose track of time at school and on the resort. Grab an index card and jot down your school schedule and important GS!I meetings and stick it behind your name tag. You won’t regret it.
- BOND OVER FOOD – There are tons of interesting people here with you. Use opportunities like meals to find out more about what they do at home and work. You’ll be surprised at how cool they are.
- KNOW THE LESSON PLAN AND WHAT YOU’LL BE DOING – Never go in without a plan. Know what your teacher will be covering and what he/she needs from you: passing out papers, writing key words on the board, assisting the students, etc.
- SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY – If you get the chance to do something new…do it! Some teachers may give you the opportunity to teach a class. Take the opportunity even if you’ve never done it. You’ll learn so much more about yourself.
- DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF – It’s easy to feel “small” when you are doing something new. Here, you may be doing something you’ve never done before. Trust your ability and know that you are a pertinent and valuable part of your team. They need you.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP – No one here will let you “drown”: physically or metaphorically. You are not alone. Your team is here to support you whenever you need it. Lean on them when you need to.
- BE YOURSELF – Simply put. Your students (and your team) will appreciate you for who you are…genuinely let that shine.
- BE HUMAN – You may not have all the answers or be the best teacher in history. Just remember to be human and deal with others as humans, and respect others as humans. People aren’t perfect. Be kind and patient with others, and yourself!
You’re The Best! (You’re the best! You’re the best! – You’ll learn this too.)
~ Ashley Johnson-Alford
My name is Ashley Johnson-Alford. I am a community organizer, law student, and mother in Atlanta, GA. Originally from Miami, FL, I have always been passionate about giving back to my community and making a difference. I work with numerous youth and adult organizations, domestically and internationally, to provide more opportunities within marginalized communities. Throughout the year, I launch numerous campaigns to collect school supplies, winter coats/shoes, and books for students in need. I travel at least four times annually for educational service opportunities, so naturally I was thrilled to hear about Great Shape! Inc. and the impact they have been making in Jamaica.
Mentoring school-aged children has always been my forte, so there’s no question why I was drawn to Great Shape! Inc.’s SuperKids Program. Great Shape gave me the opportunity to provide personalized lessons to primary school students, while building their confidence in their schoolwork and themselves. Teaching with Great Shape is one the most rewarding experiences I have had. Watching the students progress so vastly in such a small window of time was extremely inspiring for me. So much so that I continue to keep in contact with the teachers and classes that I worked closely with. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such giving spirits, to touch lives, and to grow in the process.