Cassidy with her students in Greece.

Cassidy Matz, an early childhood education student, learned that expanding her comfort zone on a service program in Greece was the impetus she needed for a new lifeview on genuine service. This reflection is excerpted from her team journal.

By Cassidy Matz, 2019 Greece volunteer
Before embarking on my service experience with Global Volunteers, volunteering to me was a required obligation that I needed to finish in order to graduate high school. In high school, it was mandatory that each student perform 40 hours of volunteer work, before the end of their junior year, in order to be eligible to graduate. I performed my hours working in a concession stand for middle school football games and helping my local middle school build sets and props for their musical productions. Those experiences for me weren’t taken as seriously as they probably should have been. I either did them with friends to make the time go by faster, or by myself watching the clock tick, anxious to leave. It wasn’t until sophomore year that I stopped caring about what others thought and started acting less selfishly giving back to the community I was in. I joined a service band fraternity and a social sorority where service to the community and others was very important. I also started volunteering at a local animal shelter. Whenever I was doing service projects with my organizations or helping the animals at the shelter, I felt so good and like I was spending my time at school wisely. It is too easy to become the typical “complaining” teenager and I wanted to make sure that I was grateful for what I had, but something in the back of my head was telling me that I still wasn’t fulfilled.

“It has changed my perspective on teaching, my limitations, what I should be grateful for, and my life overall.

Cassidy Matz

Last summer, I remembered that a friend of mine from high school had posted about a service experience she had taken, over the summer to Crete, Greece with Global Volunteers. In her pictures, she was teaching English to Elementary school kids. At first, I was so jealous of the fact she was abroad, but after looking at her pictures and reading a blog about her adventure, I finally figured out that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Teaching has always been a passion of mine and I love to travel and see new things. So I asked her about Global Volunteers, and how I could get more information. After phone calls and back and forth emails, it was decided, I too was going to Crete to teach conversational English to kids.

“I learned that I can do absolutely anything I set my mind to.”

Cassidy Matz

As I reach the end of my service program in Greece, I can reflect on how amazing and life-changing it has been for me. It has changed my perspective on teaching, my limitations, what I should be grateful for, and my life overall. Before this service trip, I believed that the only grade I would feel comfortable teaching were kids under 4th grade. However, after teaching the groups of kids I had during my two weeks, I now believe I could work with any age. I also learned that I can do absolutely anything I set my mind to. After pushing myself out of my comfort zone and traveling by myself successfully for the first time, abroad, I feel limitless, as if I could conquer any problem or situation that comes my way.

Cassidy teaching a class in Crete, Greece.
Cassidy teaching a class in Crete, Greece.

I learned how grateful I am for everything I have, especially after learning about the conditions under which many Greeks live, the number of hours they work for the little pay they receive. It literally broke my heart. Now all I want to do (via Global Volunteers) is assist as much as I can so that these children can be successful and live amazing full lives. While serving the children of Crete, I also received so much. They gave me more happiness than I could ever have hoped to give them. I’ve been transformed and encouraged by finding “the joy of people,” and they motivate me to do the same.

“I found happiness in giving back, and it’s a high I can’t even describe.”

Cassidy Matz

I am also so grateful for the people that I have met during this trip. My fellow team members. They have all shaped me into a different person in the short two weeks we spent together. Little did I know that after spending time with them, I would end up befriending and loving them all! We started out as a team of strangers, but along the way, it evolved into genuine friendships. I”m so proud of each and every one of us, and we should be proud because we deserve to be. The journey was not always an easy one; it was long, exhausting and at times demanding, but we made it. Thank you guys for being an incredible team. Thank you for giving me some beautiful memories that I will always cherish.

Volunesia (noun) – “that moment when you forget you’re volunteering to help change lives because it’s changing yours.”

Cassidy's fellow team members in Crete, Greece.
Cassidy credits her teammates for helping her contribute to her greatest capacity as a student volunteer in Greece.

Overall, I believe that helping others by volunteering changes you. It can be one small thing that completely changes your outlook or a series of moments that shape you into a different person. My Global volunteer’s service experience in Crete has changed me, and now it is my mission to make the world smile, laugh, and see the beauty in every day, like it makes me do, time and time again. I found happiness in giving back, and it’s a high I can’t even describe. Whether you volunteer for a few hours a week or decide to take the leap and dedicate your life to helping others, I promise it will change your life in a way no money or material objects can!

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Click this link to learn how you can volunteer in Greece.

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