Silicon Valley, often considered the tech capital of the world, is the birthplace of Facebook, electric cars, and iPhones. With all the technology constantly in such easy access, sometimes it can be hard for Silicon Valley citizens to look up from their screens and really see the world around them. This is why volunteering is so important; it teaches people to engage with the happenings around them and look outside of social media. But how do Bay Area teens respond to volunteering, and where do their values lie: their community or their technology?
High school students all over the Bay Area have grown used to hearing that phones are hindering their generation; that they’re making teenagers more self-centered and less community-minded; that all young people care about is social media and don’t even know what’s going on in the world around them. But perhaps this is wrong: technology and community awareness can volunteer, as demonstrated by volunteering.
When asked about her volunteer experience, Woodside High School senior Sam Borthwick responded, “I’ve been volunteering at my childhood theatre, San Carlos Children’s Theatre, for a while.”
And she is not alone. Sophomore Emma Klebaner and freshman Kaleb Conlu were quick to explain how they volunteer at a hospital and for Boy Scouts, respectively.
But why do these teenagers volunteer? It turns out that when students see the impact of their work and receive positive reinforcement, it encourages them to keep going.
“I think that volunteering is important because it allows for one to help the community… I think there’s so much to be gained through being a volunteer because you can learn how to connect with others and create a bond with people,” stated Klebaner.
On the other hand, Woodside student and boy scout Kaleb Canlu acknowledges that some students don’t always volunteer with the most altruistic intentions. Sometimes, students volunteer for their own personal gain.
“In Boy Scouts, we have to volunteer to move up ranks, so it has really personally benefited me,” Conlu explained. “I mean, you can always get volunteer hours and that obviously goes into your college application, so it looks really good for colleges.”
But, whatever motivates these students to volunteer, they are spending time with their community and gaining real-world experience. Yet other students feel that they benefit in other not as obvious ways, such as Borthwick. She believes that her volunteer work has helped her grow as a person.
“I definitely think I’ve learned a lot about leadership and teaching other students how to be leaders and just good people in general through volunteering,” Borthwick continued.
Taking a step back, the fear that technology has detracted from students awareness of their community seems to be, perhaps, an unwarranted fear, as teens prove their ability to understand and articulate the positive impact that volunteer work has on the entire community.
To conclude, Borthwick summed up, “Volunteering will help everybody in the community, even those volunteering or those getting help from volunteers. I think we can all learn something from it.”