Get to know more about Geoffrey and his experience as an online volunteer...
My name is Geoffrey and I am 29 years old. I have over the last several years developed a passion for education, which has resulted in me receiving my TEFL certification to teach English, and which I believe will lend itself to pursuing graduate-level work within the next couple of years. I enjoy working with all age groups and see education as vital to the growth of the individual, as well as for society as a whole. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with friends, reading, exercising, and playing sports.
What do you like most about teaching?
I think more than anything, I really enjoy seeing students make progress towards achieving their goals. In a lot of ways, the journey towards getting to an end goal is just as satisfying as the end goal itself. So for me, seeing students go from a place of not understanding or total confusion, to slowly improving, and then culminating in a 'light bulb' moment, when all of it seems to click for them, is perhaps the best part of teaching. As with any profession, the prep that one puts in turning into success is immensely enjoyable.
How do you feel about online volunteering?
If I am perfectly honest, it is not my preferred method of volunteering. That is not to say that I don't enjoy it - I just think that in-person, on the ground volunteering is most effective, whether in the realm of education or some other area. There are limitations to online volunteering that are quite evident - things like communication or participation issues, as well as a lack of what should be more authentic interaction. Now, that being said, I think that online volunteering also has its benefits. For one, the ease of access is tremendous. I have been able to work with and teach students from an entirely different country all from the comfort of my own home. Even if there are limitations to it, the alternative being to not teach or work with them at all makes the online aspect fantastic. As with anything, there are benefits and there are limitations, but I would certainly argue that the world is better off with online volunteering as an option than without it.
Which advice would you give to someone that is about to start an online volunteering experience?
In a word, I would tell them to be confident. It can be, or at least it was for me, more intimidating to try to take charge and exude a level of confidence from behind a computer screen than it would have been to do so in-person. So more than anything, I would tell people that while there are limitations and difficulties that arise from trying to lead anyone from halfway across the world, remember that the simple fact that you can do so at all is a tremendous blessing. Be confident in yourself, be patient with people, and prepare well so that you can take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity.