Volunteering as a collective experience

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As we always say, volunteering is a learning process. And a learning process is never isolated. Volunteering is also a collective experience signed by the relation we'll create with the communities we'll work with.

         At Voluntario Global, since 2006, we have networked with socio-community projects and social organizations from Buenos Aires: it's a pedagogical-transversal project that combines the practical experience of volunteering with the training of intercultural mediators through the Critical Pedagogy theories and an anticolonial, antiracist and an antipatriarchal perspective. We challenge assistentialist views and promote intercultural practices that focus on the political, social, and cultural issues that communities organizing themselves from the margins face, aiming to construct a sense of groupness that defies frontiers and create a global community capable of imagining a different world through social justice, solidarity, and affection.

        Amid global political and socio-environmental collapse, we face critical challenges. I believe a pedagogical praxis from a Southern perspective is vital. The pursuit of new knowledge and liberating practices through encounter, intimacy, and joint inquiry is vital for imagining different worlds. We must create new worlds for the continuity of life. The current exclusion, emptiness, and death logics cannot keep on going. We cannot allow the world we live in to devour itself by destroying everything in its path. We must reinvent our bodies, our planet, our words, and our ways of being and interacting with others. Our relationship with the earth must also be reinvented. We need to find new ways of being with and for the earth and with each other. We need to develop an Imagination and Affection Pedagogy.

       We cannot rely on what we currently possess and know. We need to venture into the unknown, where discoveries are made and true potential is unleashed. Our Latin America is a land of contrasting experiences, where conquest and oppression have been met with powerful movements of liberation and progress. Our unique perspectives, cultural identities, and stories play a crucial role in redefining the course of history and shaping the world we live in.

       Understanding the collective as the driving force of change, for us the experience of volunteering does not only lie in the possibility of getting closer to a different culture. It contains within itself the power to jointly produce new knowledge that transforms our lives and our visions of the world. For this we not only need an open mind: we need curiosity, humility, and love to drive us. And this is why the ever-living question of why we decided to go through this experience is crucial. The decision to volunteer is not naive. It has social, political, and emotional implications that will permeate our lives and those of the people we meet, as long as we approach it as a conscious learning process.

        On previous occasions, I have discussed the importance of asking thought-provoking questions to gain a deeper understanding of volunteering as a pedagogical practice. However, these questions should aim to guide us toward producing knowledge without getting lost in our reflections and losing sight of the primary objective of bringing us closer to others. While self-reflection is critical to our growth, it should also be focused on opening our thoughts to the community, territory, and context. Any learning process cannot be fully developed in isolation; it requires collaborative efforts.

        So: how do I put my words, my reflections, my body, and my imagination into play to create networks with others? What do I have to share, and even more importantly, what do I want to share? What is expected of me in this context? How do I envision being a part of these communities and networks?

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