Friday, 22 July 2016

The Spirit Behind Parent-Volunteering

Whenever I share with my friend (yes, just one friend) and sisters that I am doing some parent-volunteering works in Baby's school, they ask the same question,"Your kids have already got into the school. What are you volunteering in the school for?"

My answer would be "To help out".

I am one of those people who are of the opinion that becoming a parent-volunteer for the purpose of gaining entry to your school of choice is against the spirit of volunteering.

It's a personal belief that 'volunteer' means one gives of one's time and energy for intrinsic reasons, not extrinsic. It should not be a form of labour in exchange for something else. 

That said, I have nothing against people who become parent-volunteers so that they can help their children gain entry to the school of choice at Phase 2B. It's a legitimate avenue after all. Perhaps I just don't like the way it is packaged. 

I personally would not offer my services in the capacity of a parent-volunteer to exchange for a seat for my child in a school as it contradicts with my belief. I read about a parent who became a parent-volunteer for the purpose of enrolling her child in the school two years back, but she could not go through with it as it was not her personal conviction to do so. I admire her courage to give up the 'privilege' of being a parent-volunteer as we know that even the quest to become parent-volunteers can be very competitive and the phase at which allows one to register for Primary One is a slightly less stressful one than Phase 2C, the phase that goes by home-school distance.

When I was a young mother, I had fantasised about myself becoming a volunteer at orphanages, with Coco in tow to help out as well. However, when I reflected more deeply on the 'motive' behind that gesture, I realised it was to allow Coco to see how fortunate she was compared to the abandoned children. It would not be fair to the children. The impact of the children feeling the misfortune of not having a mother would be exponentially greater when they see a child having a mother. Instead of giving, I would be reaping benefits at those poor children's expense instead. If I am not volunteering for a pure intention, then I'd better not do it. The volunteering idea was soon banished from my mind.

In the same way, I want to be a parent-volunteer without an agenda that could benefit myself, or at least tangibly or materially. Baby would be happy to see me as a parent-volunteer in school for sure. That would be a benefit I would reap. Other than that, I might get to learn about how the school works for certain things or events. Another benefit. 

Other than that, I don't think I should take away anything as a parent-volunteer.

That is why I volunteer my services only when the girls have gained entry into the schools.

Do I have a problem with my friends or sisters becoming parent-volunteers for the sake of Primary One registration? Of course not. 

It's similar to how I would not pay tens of thousands for a Hermes bag but I have no objection to another who can afford it. These are personal choices that the parties involved make for themselves and I will not give them a lengthy lecture on why they should not do it. In fact, I would fully understand if they choose to be parent-volunteers for P1 registration, because I am a parent, and all (okay, most) parents want the best for their children.

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