When Cassidy Matz arrived as a volunteer in Crete in 2019, she was an early childhood education student, and anticipated teaching preschool after graduation. But, she admitted her focus was lacking. After teaching teens English for two weeks, she gained a profound sense of purpose and her career vision became clear. She changed her major, graduated with a degree in primary school education, and in August, 2021 she accepted a teaching position as a fourth-grade teacher for the 2021-2022 school year in Maryland. Read here how a pivot on her Global Volunteers service program led her to a promising career.
Extracted from Cassidy Matz’ service program journal
“In my sophomore year of college, 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, like I was spending my school time wisely. I didn’t want to become the typical, dissatisfied, complaining teenager. Instead, I wanted to make sure that I was grateful for what I had. Still, something in the back of my head was telling me that I still wasn’t fulfilled.
“So, in the summer of 2018, when a high school friend posted about a summer service experience in Crete, Greece with Global Volunteers, I felt that twinge again. Her pictures showed her teaching English to elementary school kids. At first, I was so jealous of her trip abroad. But a second look at her pictures drew me into her blog about her adventure. I finally figured out that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Teaching had always been a passion, and I love to travel and see new things. So I took the next step that would take me in a new direction. I talked to her more about Global Volunteers, and learned how to get more information. After multiple phone calls emails with the organization, I too was going to Crete to teach conversational English to kids.”
Cassidy said her education classes had prepared her for the classroom she served in, but up until her volunteer assignment, she felt hesitant about her skills. The daily lesson planning and students’ rapid-fire questions forced a professional discipline she was grateful to have to sharpen.
“My service program was amazing for me professionally and personally. During that time, I changed my perspective on teaching, my limitations, what I should be grateful for, and my life overall. Before serving with Global Volunteers, I could only imagine teaching young children – basically, pre-schoolers. However, because I taught a range of ages over two weeks, I realized I could handle the additional challenges of older students, and could teach any grade. I also learned that I can do absolutely anything I set my mind to. After pushing myself out of my comfort zone and traveling solo successfully for the first time abroad to take on a challenging volunteer assignment, I felt limitless – as if I could conquer any problem or situation that came my way. ” She found the motivation to finally confront her career apprehensions and choose a course to suit her new-found confidence.
“Gaining More Than I Gave”
“But there was more. I was grateful 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 is assist as much as I can so children can be successful and live amazing full lives. At the same time, the children gave me more happiness than I could ever have hoped to give them. I’ve been transformed and encouraged by observing how they find ‘the joy of people,’ and they motivated me to do the same.
Further, I am so grateful for the people on met on that service program. My teammates 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. While the journey was at times long, exhausting, and demanding, I still cherish memories from that time.
“I found happiness in giving back, and it’s a high I can’t even describe.”
Most of all, 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 service experience in Crete changed me, and now it is my mission to make the world smile, laugh, and see the beauty every day. 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!