Almost a quarter of the world volunteers globally and Sri Lanka leads this list with 46% of our national population volunteering to give back to society. The origins of volunteering come from evolution; for the longest time, human beings have depended on one another for survival. However, in psychological approaches, volunteerism translates to helping behaviour. Motives behind helping behaviour are fuelled by learning experiences and positive outcomes such as financial benefits, social recognition, or positive feelings about themselves from helping. These prosocial behaviours are battered, bruised and pushed into categories in academia. But in reality, they exist without a division, among us in our everyday things.
At AIESEC, volunteering is a way of life
Our volunteering opportunities are aligned to offer cross-cultural experiences to the participants. These opportunities are vital for the hosts as much as it is for the volunteers. For instance, in the aftermath of social turmoil, Sri Lanka was revived by the kindness of the community. The front lines, the most essential forces of change were the volunteers who picked up the slack. With the dramatic fall of our economy in 2022, the fallen spirits of our community was lifted by the volunteers who stepped up in numerous ways to uplift the lives of Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka has also always been a nation of tourism. We are home to lush rainforests, breathtaking beaches and waterfalls, mountains and terraces – the whole package! Sri Lanka also has a rich cultural heritage, both in terms of history and flavour. Streets of Lanka are scattered with confetti like mini shops of fried goodies, refreshing fresh king coconuts to drink and trinkets of souvenirs to accompany you through your journey in Sri Lanka. Our volunteering projects at AIESEC, based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) not only offer the volunteers an excellent opportunity to enhance their personal and professional goals, but also enhance the lives of all in Sri Lanka. When executed ethically, each of these volunteer projects have the power to support and develop the community.
The Role of International Volunteers in Sri Lankan Society
Apart from its contribution to the tourism sector in adding to the Per Capita Income, the communal engagement proves to enhance a better understanding of life here in Sri Lanka, going beyond the stereotyped and polarized headlines on internet news. There is bound to be a cultivation of a positive cultural education and appreciation through the foreign volunteers who get to engage with our local community and vice versa. Volunteering provides a journey of self-exploration and cultural confluence. With the planet in danger and nature in trouble, nations are facing unprecedented complexities. The SDGs provide a framework to manage them and volunteers actively play a part in the implementation of them.
Volunteers become crucial drivers of change, actively moulding the achievement of these goals. When they involve themselves in local areas, they create a lasting link to the advancement of the country. Essentially, volunteering not only helps people grow personally but also brings about real and positive changes.
AIESEC in University of Peradeniya
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