By Lisa Subia
I am a full-time student and also a single parent of two special-needs boys. Some days, it’s hard to worry about making myself Future Ready when I have so much work to do staying “Present Ready.” What I’ve found to keep me going is an idea as old as civilization itself – volunteering. There is something about donating my time to those who need it that is not only personally fulfilling, but also offers a chance to hone skills I might not otherwise sharpen. Making my personal tool kit as up-to-date as possible is how I stay Future Ready.
The need for help is staggering. It turns out that America is still a beacon for the rest of the world, and many recent immigrants need help with all number of skills we take for granted. For example, I had no idea that there are so many refugees in my local school district who need basic tutoring in the “three ‘R’s” – reading, writing, and arithmetic. So that’s where I plugged in. I started slowly, but I’m now able to volunteer at least two or three hours every other week.
I found that the old adage is right – if you want to learn a subject, be a teacher. You have to work hard to keep ahead of the students, and you force yourself to improve your own skills constantly. There is something about setting yourself up as an expert on a subject that makes you constantly scramble to improve. Those kids are smart! They are always looking forward, and they want to know everything instantly. You could say that I’m helping make the students more Future Ready at each and every session, but I’m also helping myself at the same time. That makes it feel twice as nice.
Lisa Subia is a nursing student at Portland State University. She is an active volunteer in the local community, and she shares her approach to combining volunteerism with the drive to make herself Future Ready.