Moving can be daunting — whether it’s to a new city or an entirely new country. The good news? Volunteering can be a great way to settle into a new community, meet people, and learn valuable skills. That’s why we’re spotlighting Kajal Patil, a volunteer who recently moved and found a way to make an impact in her new community.
Kajal moved to the United States from India in February 2017. Having previously volunteered for two years as an assistant yoga teacher with Shri Ambika Yoga Kutir in her home country, Kajal was enthusiastic about volunteering and began looking for volunteer opportunities that match her interests on VolunteerMatch. “I enjoy volunteering and it’s great to have such meaningful experiences in life,” says Kajal.
Kajal was drawn to a volunteer opportunity with the Meridian International Center to review applications on behalf of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI). YLAI aims to empower Latin American and Caribbean business and social entrepreneurs to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development, prosperity, security, human rights, and good governance in the Western Hemisphere.
Kajal had previous experience working with the markets candidates were applying from, and the position also afforded her the opportunity to work remotely.
After connecting with the opportunity on VolunteerMatch and successfully completing the application process, Kajal got to work. Her role involved reviewing 44 in-depth applications from potential candidates across Latin America and the Caribbean for a four-week fellowship in the U.S. She was responsible for describing the business ideas presented by these candidates, assessing the social impact of their businesses, and determining the strength of candidates to carry out their plans.
With almost 4,000 applicants in 2017, Meridian International Center considers volunteers like Kajal to be integral members of the team. With help from volunteers, 250 candidates have now been selected to take part in the program and will travel to the U.S. this fall.
Kajal says that this volunteer opportunity super-charged her existing skills, while helping her build new ones such as time management, business analysis, decision-making, planning, and presenting.
She is now looking for her next volunteer opportunity and reflects positively on her experience with Meridian International Center, “A new country brings in a lot of new experiences and volunteering helped me to settle into a new environment,” adds Kajal. “By helping others, I felt needed in society. Not only did it boost my self-esteem, other people benefited too. Volunteering is a great opportunity to improve yourself, others, and the whole society”.
Whether you recently moved to a new place or are looking to make an impact in your current community, find a volunteer opportunity to empower yourself — and others — on VolunteerMatch.