When Cassidy Matz was an early childhood education student, she anticipated teaching pre-schoolers once she graduated. A Global Volunteers service program in Greece was the impetus she needed to expand her career perspective. Looking back on obligatory service projects in high school – a graduation requirement – she admitted she hadn’t taken many of those assignments seriously. In her team journal, she recounts how her Global Volunteers assignment not only transformed her view of service, but influenced her choice of work after college.
By Cassidy Matz
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 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
Taking the Next Step
In the summer of 2018, a high school friend 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
My service program in Greece was amazing and 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 – under fourth grade. However, because over two weeks I taught a range of ages, I realized 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 solo successfully for the first time abroad, I felt limitless, as if I could conquer any problem or situation that came my way.
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 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 so grateful for the people on met on that program. My fellow team members 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 took home 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.”Unknown
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!
An update from Cassie
Cassie’s experience with Global Volunteers in Greece changed her perspective on teaching and her limitations, so much so that in August, 21 she moved to Rockville, Maryland, accepting her first professional teaching position as a fourth-grade teacher for the 2021-2022 school year!