This morning I was doing volunteer work. I love it and love the fact that I can help people. Between the moments that people approaching me for help, I can relax and drink a cup of tea. Then I look through my door to the people that are waiting to be helped by a group of volunteers with their paperwork. The people that are waiting are low literacy or have lack of digital knowledge. And when they get letters from the companies or government they don’t understand or don’t know what to do. That group of volunteers helps them to make phone calls or fill out forms on paper or online. So people won’t get in trouble with the government.
My volunteer work is different. I am language volunteer (taalvrijwilliger). It really sounds a whole lot better in Dutch! I help low literacy people that want to learn more and better Dutch.
Anyway, as I say, I look through my door to the people that are waiting to be helped. I love to observe people. And try to figure out what their backgrounds are and base on what I have observed I know I can or can’t approach that person. If I can, I take my cup of tea, sit next to that person, and start to have a casual talk. To be honest, I hate casual, small talk. I hate to walk towards people and start a conversation. But these are people that need help and maybe I can help them by improving their language in understanding, talking, writing and reading. Maybe even help them on the digital level, so they have more knowledge and be more independent. That makes it easier for me to sit next to them and have a talk. I have a goal to do that. During the conversation, I know whether I have observed it right or wrong.
By being there every week people start to know me and it makes it easier now for them to come to me and ask for help. I am proud that they have found the courage to make that step. Especially Dutch people, because they are more ashamed of the fact that they can’t read or write very well Dutch or haven’t digital skill. That group is what we call NT1, that means their first language is Dutch. The second group is NT2, that group is immigrants or refugees. NT2 means that Dutch isn’t their first language.
How more I get to know this group of people the less I judge them base on my ignorant. I always try to stay open-minded and learn from other people. That is why I try to read about other cultures and learn from it.
I love this voluntarily work!