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What a volunteer should not do

Watch a former President tell about his experience working with a volunteer that ended in a conflict.
sri lankan male with red shirt

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

Hello,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 usas 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 usas if dismissive. That’s different. Whew. 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.Whoa…We discussed, it’s as if the volunteer was trying to be above us. No, the volunteer should have been behind us. Supportive. 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. Whoa. 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, accommodating 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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