Sille-Kadri Simer: Does activism begin at home, at school, or in a friendship group?

Recently, while reading my resume, I discovered that I could write a book about my extensive volunteering experience. It’s hard to sum up every organised event, festival, and other contribution to the community in only a few sentences.  I have to admit that these experiences came mostly as a student and not while I was in basic or upper secondary school.  Why was I not an active young person early on?

In my everyday work, I meet a lot of enthusiastic young people who are in one way or another involved in volunteer work. I have come to understand that that activists are by their nature a bit different and crazy in the best sense of the word. They have a strong inner motivation to change things or to help someone. It is interesting that everyone comes to volunteering in their own way and at different times. My first experience was when I went to the Food Bank at the age of 22.

I know only a few people whose active contribution to society comes from home.  Is it because our parents didn’t do volunteer work in the same form and to the same extent as is customary today? Did they even have time outside of work and life?  Many homes definitely have a habit of participating in clean-up days or contributing to school events, which is also volunteer work. My home did not have such a habit and as a child I wasn’t even aware of this possibility.

Most of my colleagues are now involved in volunteering through friends and acquaintances. My friendship group, when I was younger, had less activists than it does now. I got a push from university because I was surrounded by active people who often contributed to some youth organisation or were busy coordinating projects alongside their studies. In addition to the inspiration that surrounded me, I was also thinking about the future. How would these experiences affect my career?  I wanted to get practical experience, new knowledge, and, on top of everything, contacts. Volunteering gave me all that and more. Later, I have involved people from my friendship group and encouraged them to be more active in community activities. I am still doing it now because it is never too late to become a volunteer.

Article written by Sille-Kadri Simer

Published in the youth information portal Teeviit in 2022.

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