A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Being Present


Today I was feeling lazy, not a lot of work was getting done; instead all that seemed to be happening was lot of procrastination and eating peanut butter sandwiches. I thought it was going to be ‘one of those days’ that Thomas talked about ( However, a few weeks ago, I had signed up to be part of a volunteering project called ‘Be Present’ which is run by ‘Contrast Leiden’, an organisation which aims to unite international and Dutch students.

So I cycled of to be greeted by some friendly students and some welcome tea. We chatted about what volunteering was like in our own country and what kind of things we had been involved in before. It was a really interesting intercultural exchange and made me think about the measures that different countries have in place to help people and how it would be possible to help people more who don’t have the network in place to give them support.

Anyway after meeting, we headed off to the house of the person we were going to help. He is a recovering addict, who wants to turn his life around and the way we were helping was just making his home a little bit nicer to enable him to have a better environment. He was so welcoming towards us and grateful to help and it was nice to share experiences with him and the other students whilst uniting through painting and cleaning.

After a few hours, it was time to head home but I definitely felt that we had achieved a job well-done. Although it was not entirely finished, just a clean and a fresh coat of paint helped to make the room more inviting and the smile and gratitude of the man that we had helped was so rewarding, I felt that I had really achieved something good with my afternoon.

The tired volunteers then headed for some dinner and more sharing of interesting, cultural differences. It was such a nice way to learn more about one another and do something really rewarding together, I’m so glad that my lazy day turned into something truly productive.

Here is the link to contrast Leiden if anyone is interested in getting involved in something similar:

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2014 by in Gemma and tagged , , , , .

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