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I have no idea how difficult it is to become a truly engaged voluntary worker until I faced the difficulties in Qatar, Middle East. On August 5th, 2017, Qatar's summer was at its peak; despite wearing a vest, the spiky heat boiled my chest and hands. The warmth of our car's roof reached out to me. At nearly 10 a.m., Yusuf and I arrived at the designated location to meet with our community engagement officer, Khadija Swaleh, who would later lead us to the various indigenous organisations and distribute flyers for the sharing circle. We started our work at 10.20 am, Khadija assigned duties to both of us. I was personally requested to store the bag with the instructions manual for the sharing circle until August 15th when the major event would take place. At around 10.30 am, the clouds slightly blocked the sun above us, bringing about some coolness as a result of the clouds’ shadow. Khadija directed us to the first organization- Hukoomi Qatar Foundation – a non-profit Hukoomi institution that supports families and individuals in creating human as well as social and economic development, with over 60% of its population being aboriginals. The summer was extremely hot such that people could be barely identified inside the office when we entered into the square.
A female Asian reception manager passionately ushered us in, whereby Khadija briefed our objective and aim was to welcome all individuals and families to engage in the sharing circle development from the indigenous institutions. Khadija took out some few printed posters, whereby she requested the enthusiastic manager to perform such development in her free time. In the entire process, I positioned myself like a spectator, focusing on how Khadija was performing the exercise. Eventually, I noticed that becoming a volunteer or a fully-committed staff was not as smooth as it is often thought. Going to some area and just sightsee, record some few attracting images or pictures, and post them on the various social media platforms and conclude that we assisted them- It is incredibly ironic!
Indeed, becoming a fully-committed volunteering staff in the non-profit institutions, opposed the slackers, it needs us to invest our money or time in performing real things entirely. Besides, participating in the development requires us to apply knowledge in considering the plans that are most effective such as money saving. Saving money is, particularly to the non-profit institutions, essential in conducting valuable developments. After all that, this is a proper voluntarism definition (Morison, 2000). Khadija’s strategy may not have been the most appropriate framework for propagating such a development, but it was a measure of saving money. Possibly, such a definition differed between Yusuf as well as I and Khadija, Khadija is a person who mainly thought about assisting the others in respect to her strategy, even if it means that the help covers a small scale. Finally, we toured six distinct indigenous non-profit centers before dawn, whereby we gathered in a hall such that we could form a sharing circle- a broaden-square room with a lobby with bubbly and fizzy lights. I wished to see such a significant event take place. It was indeed a unique educational as well as an exciting day!
I was to define our duty as entirely volunteerism – whereby our contribution was volunteering for the sake of the learning community service. Consequently, I was to subject to defining slacktivism concerning revelation. Slacktivism introduced a negative perception regarding supporting a meaningful development that spends less money or time in its implementation. For instance, in a case with the online petition, individuals mainly switch a single button while voting online on whether they credit specific developments like restricting alcohol. Such voting entirely cost nothing to the people. Such a practice is not ideal while practicing volunteers; therefore, it is significant for the individuals as well as families to increase their knowledge and awareness concerning numerous social factors and responsibility of a citizen. As a result, raising knowledge and awareness is subject to making the world a better place to live!
Section 2: Circle Sharing can be a circle healing: An indigenous culture approach
Circle sharing can be defined as technically holding circle talks in approaching the indigenous culture through applying measures in developing an educational objective. Sometimes, a sharing circle transforms into a healing circle especially for the individuals suffering from life struggles. A sharing circle may help such people in resting their spirits since they are provided with an opportunity for expressing their harms as well as difficulties; hence, leading them to feel relieved and peaceful. On August 15, 2017, it was somehow raining outside, but finally, the sharing circle was demonstrated. Khadija started by introducing Malia Knowles to Yusuf and me, a cultural assistant who was to guide us in the sharing circle whereby there were circles of chairs from which different individuals from unique backgrounds and distinct places were seated during the event. People were not familiar with each other, but their status was equal as well as free at that particular juncture. At around 12.30 pm, Malia requested everybody to wake up and walk to the circle area perform the smudge, and eventually, she was holding a feather on her left hand, and another one in her right hand.
We could observe boiling alcohol firing on a shell. Malia used the feather in fanning smoke, and eventually, the hall was filled with a sobering smell. I saw people calming down, implying that the purification purpose was achieved. What a metaphysical encounter! During the third talking cycle, after we have introduced about what led us into the sharing circle, a kind grey-haired aboriginal old woman started speaking in a shivering as well as a booming voice. The woman demonstrated the bias she had since her childhood, that gave her difficulties in blending into the major society (modern women society) after graduating from a residential institution. She appeared great as she narrated her story, particularly the part illustrating how a sharing circle could sometimes transform into a healing circle- presenting a measure in releasing internal pressure as well as difficulties or challenges.
Life happens to be a journey of solving issues. Everybody has their personal or individual hardships in their lifetime, and individuals can sometimes get lost in their journeys. In such situations, it is significant for people to make a sudden stop to have a breath, that may make the journey smooth. My experience in the E4C made me understand one significant aspect – in every community activity; we have to encounter different individuals; therefore, we have to understand them and how to speak with them, and also we will hear numerous stories or narrations in the process. Meanwhile, we may consider ourselves from the life of others, and understand how similar it is for us on a narrow path. Finally, after all that, my all that, my spirit was healed – I began considering the world and individuals in a different manner. Such perception happens to be the biggest benefit or reward in engaging in such an event. I believed that I would appreciate such a perception in my remaining lifetime.
Section 3: The CSL Underside and the Sharing Circle Preparation
Step 1: “Underside” Waiting
The underside does not precisely represent the community service learning (CSL) negativities. In fact, underside is all about experience disappointing such that it has failed to function as I was anticipating – influentially engaging in several activities and performing meaningful developments. In my view, the underside was transforming to becoming a one-way emailing communication that rarely had responses from the placement. In the “Underside of Service Learning,” Susan quotes that “some students understand what they are supposed to do in the placement. Meanwhile, the placement is unable to provide a connecting bridge for the learning depth between the in-class courses and the placement itself.” (Susan Jones, 2002). Incoherently waiting for the CSL results go anxiety and frustrations that cannot achieve both the aims and roles (mandatory and motivation roles in doing it). Indeed, in respect to several midterm exams as well as assignments within the middle of July, such an experience made me feel extremely miserable at that point. Such feelings seemed incoherent up to July 20th when my cousin joined me in my studying week.
After she realized my feelings, she continuously urged me to constantly contact the E4C’s professions in both actions and words as she told me – “everybody has their daily activities, if you put yourself into their shoes, you might get to know what their experiences are.” It is ideal that by holding on another perspective, you can blame nobody since it is realized that the E4C is extremely busy to plan an ideal time for both of us (Yusuf and I) and its staff. Besides, in relieving my pressure during that time, my cousin took me for a walk slightly far from home. As a result, the walk helped and I thank her a lot for the care and concern she showed me since the rest of my reading week was surprising. Somewhat, the approach proves the statement “….is service really about them, or is it all about me?” (Susan, Jone 2002).
Such a statement implies that my subjection to study in the CSL happens not to be limited, but it comprises of both outside class and inside a class. My physiological dispute is a difficulty that can be demonstrated at any given period provided that I am anxious, pressurized, and lost through my lifetime journey. However, such dispute needs to be overcome during my first year in learning since it will boost my soundness in facing numerous challenges in the future. Consequently, such challenges may lead to relationship issues in our life. This period, I achieved my soundness with help from my cousin. For the other individuals who do not have families and friends, they can get assistance from their relatives, a circle which is compared to a spider web connecting the relatives (Smith 2009).
Step 2: Sharing Circle
Luckily, preservation mainly transforms into a positive path. My counterpart, Yusuf, and I were immediately brought into contact with Khadija, our community development instructor assisting in the sharing circle, as well as the coordinator in the E4C. On July 25th, 2017, at 10 am in the Zen Restaurant, we begun discussing a particular event stated in the email – a Sharing Circle Program to be held on August 15th, 2017 mainly for the aboriginals. Individuals included aboriginals, but the other people were also invited in participating in the event and become a member of the circle through sharing their thoughts as well as ideas grounded on a particular subject to be introduced by the leader of the circle. The same message was posted on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter including Snapchat and the rest. Furthermore, the message stated that Yusuf and I were going to meet the aboriginal institutions on this Saturday, August 4th, 2017 and confirm with them if they were willing to participate in the event together with Khadija. Meanwhile, such planning was a role for us to find out and list them down, then proceed to the intended areas.
Sometimes experience happens to be not sufficient in allowing students to understand interacting with numerous kinds of people including gender, race, partners, and cultures from different regions or communities. Such inadequate experience shows the importance of a teacher or tutor in a community service learning exercise (Raji Swaminathan, 2007). As our partner, Khadija will guide us through the history as well as notices f the sharing circle, such that we understand the appropriate way of doing it.
Community Service Learning has the potential of teaching me the fundamental principles or concepts in understanding how services operate including being part of the CSL as a participant. CSL is not only a community learning process but also an individual learning process. Such experiences serve as gifts that benefit my entire life. Besides, my roles are certainly clear, and I belie the coming event is going to provide me with permanent memories.
Morison, J. (2000) The government-voluntary sector compacts: governance, governmentality, and civil society. Journal of Law and Society 27(1), 98-132.
Raji Swaminathan (2007) Educating for the “Real World”: The Hidden Curriculum of Community Service-Learning, Equity & Excellence in Education, 40:2, 134-143, DOI:
Smith, M. K. (2000-2009). ‘Social capital’, the encyclopedia of informal education.
Susan R. Jones. (2002) The Underside of Service Learning. Journal of College Student Development.
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