Believe it or not, volunteer work changed my life. The first time I volunteered I was 11 years old. I’m glad my school had something called Student Life Organization (SLO) which engages students in their school life to run a student-led organization that acts something like a Student Affairs in a typical school.

Starting at a young age helped me overcome some personal weak points like shyness, and taught me how to interact and deal with people and responsibilities. Yet the seed it planted in me didn’t stop there, it grew multiple folds to flourish in my university life and beyond.

From the first year of university, I just had that drive to give back to the community, to serve, to grow, to meet people and so I ended up joining student societies and clubs at my university (AUB) as well as cofounding an NGO called Aie Serve among my involvement with many others that I am still involved in till this day.

So here are some of the things I believe volunteer work gave me:

  • Opened my mind to new ways of thinking about life.
  • Gave me a purpose beyond my own self and my day to day life.
  • Got me to meet the most inspiring people I would have never dreamed of knowing.
  • Got me more friends than I could have possibly had in 50 years.
  • Gave me life changing experiences and challenges that made me mature way faster than many of my colleagues and friends that were not involved in volunteer work.
  • Made me feel proud about the achievements I was able to accomplish with the teams I worked with to make Lebanon a better place to live in; from improving the lives of under-served children to giving back to nature through tree planting and beach clean-ups to mentoring youth to training and sharing knowledge with aspiring young leaders to many many many more.
  • Gave me opportunities to learn how to manage projects, lead teams, do strategic planning, explore my training skills, brainstorm for ideas that will make the world a better place, just to mention a few.
  • Led me to having a career in consultancy and training that I wouldn’t have known of if I hadn’t done all the volunteer work I did, simply because a typical university life and a 8-5 job wouldn’t have given me half as much opportunities to learn, grow, and meet new people.

So my recommendation to you, no matter how old you are or what your social/economic/academic/marital status is, if you’re not engaged in some volunteer work already, get to it, now!

You can never do too much volunteer work, the more the merrier, and trust me it just gets better with time, just make sure you join the organizations or causes that you feel passionate about or at least interested in, and the rest will follow!

Global Shapers 2014

Photo: The Annual Curators Meeting 2014-Global Shapers-World Economic Forum.

 content originally appeared on Afif’s personal blog, adapted and published on with permission.