What a volunteer should not do

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[Description: A man faces directly the camera, signing. He is standing with a blue background behind him.]

I am a former President of a deaf association
I worked for 10 years
We had everything
such as interpreters
an office
with technology
We were making great progress in our work
We discussed and decided we wanted to apply for volunteers
We interviewed and were able to get an volunteer.
The first volunteer worked for a year
Then we searched and found another volunteer
Worked for a year
Then a third time, we applied again
and we had a volunteer
but then we had a bit of a problem
I’ll tell you all about it
For example, the Board would discuss
develop a Mother and Father sign language program
The volunteer said no, no, no
Remove this program
I said no, this parent project is important
how can they communicate with their deaf child?
The volunteer still disregarded the project
The project is good for us but the volunteer refused
We were taken aback
A second example…
Our mission, the volunteer took a look at it
and said it wasnt strong enough, that it was weak
I said no, this is how we work with the government, the system
our culture
I was taken aback with the weak comment
And the volunteer telling me no, no
I tried to explain that this is ours, and our culture, the volunteer still said it’s not strong and not advanced enough
Another example, the Board would discuss our future planning
The volunteer kept asking what we are doing
Our interpreter interpret and then the volunteer would say it’s not strong
the Board is not strong, I’ll tell you what you need to do
I’ll tell you what to do, advise you
I felt that the volunteer was coming across as trying to stop us
as oppressive
I said no, why did you come here?
You’re here to volunteer, to encourage
to support
and understand our culture
The volunteer didn’t at all
The first two volunteers were good, but the last one was different
I felt conflicted and disgusted
The board and I were patient
We kept having problems and trying to explain
including our past experiences with the volunteers
But the volunteer said I’m educated in England
I’ve worked in successful projects and I am experienced
Wow what a problem
The interpreter would try to intervene
And talk to the volunteer
The volunteer understood but then didn’t care
Then I started thinking maybe the volunteer is good, smart
The board, president, secretary, vice president
assistant secretary, treasurer, we all discussed
but the volunteer would just Tell us
as if dismissive
That’s different
Another one, a presentation,
the volunteer would just leave
The volunteer would ask if we’re meeting with the President
and then say they’re going too
I’d try to introduce the volunteer and yet
the volunteer took over and started speaking
about their experiences in England, projects
I thought the volunteer should have held off
I thought the volunteer should just stay low key and support us from behind
Instead the volunteer acted as the leader
We discussed, it’s as if the volunteer was trying to be above us
No, the volunteer should have been behind us
The volunteer has already been given responsibilities
The volunteer disregarded it
and had their own agenda
It was a problem
The board gathered and discussed how to address
We realized the first and second volunteers were good
but this last one…. eh…
the first two volunteers were understanding, supportive
They did not join in with the Board, and said they could not
It’s YOUR constitution after all
The first two were nice
The third one was different
The volunteer would read our report and dismiss it
or would try to change the English, from Sri Lankan English to England English
using more fancy words
with no consideration of our English use
just use England’s words
There’s many more I could tell you
If a volunteer comes again, they must
be understanding of local culture
the local programs and projects
be aware that we have not achieved equal rights yet
the volunteer must be flexible
and respect the local experience, services and work
The volunteer should not dismiss all that work
There would be conflicts
I’m telling you

Watch a former President tell about his experience working with a volunteer that ended in a conflict.

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