Published by Alex Romanak on 26 Dec 2012 at 05:36 pm
We talked volunteering, education, and life exploration with Maria Arguelles, a Wiser.org member and volunteer who teaches at a Montessori school in Ontario. Read on to hear about her Wiser.org “fan girl story,” cultural differences between the U.S. and the Phillipines, and how she’s not the only teacher in her classroom. Thanks for speaking with us Maria. — Alex Romanak
(Above): Maria Arguelles, Wiser.org volunteer and life learner
How did you discover Wiser.org, and how long have you been a part of the site?
Earlier this year I had been looking for a way to volunteer, but my shifts change a lot at work, so it’s hard to find open opportunities. I saw something in the newspaper about micro-volunteering with Sparked.com – a place that has all these organizations that need online volunteering help. I did that until I found Wiser.org and the Peace by Peace challenge. I sent an email, signed up near the end of July, and started adding events.
What do you believe to be unique about Wiser.org?
The first thing is the people – the people I’ve interacted with are what makes Wiser.org so unique. I’ve been reading Paul Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest – actually I wasn’t sure about volunteering for Wiser.org but it sounded like a good cause and when I heard volunteers got a copy [of the book] I thought “Great, I’m ready to learn something new” – and there’s a part where Paul Hawken says that all the people he met, he felt like Blessed Unrest was their gift to him. People at Wiser.org treat people like they’re a gift, just like what Paul Hawken said. They treat you like friends; even though they are so far away, they’re so appreciative of what you do.
It’s so refreshing to see that in this day and age. I grew up in the Phillipines, where everyone is in everyone’s business, while here it’s so individualistic – but with Wiser.org it’s all about working together for a common goal. And the organization is so small – I’m only just realizing the scope of Wiser.org does, and you don’t realize it’s that small.
Do you have any Wiser.org stories? And by that I mean, a story where maybe you or someone you heard of made a new connection, had a project supported, or had a problem solved due to the Wiser.org platform?
I have a cool fan girl story about Paul Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest. My boyfriend and I went to a Go Global expo and the keynote speaker was Dev Aujla, who wrote a book called Making Good that’s about “finding meaning, money, and community in a changing world.” At that point I had just started volunteering with Wiser.org – and the speaker talked about Blessed Unrest! I got so excited, I had to email Laura [at Wiser.org] right away. It was a “there are connections in the world” moment, a great example of what Wiser.org is about.
Why do you support Wiser.org?
How could I not support Wiser.org? Especially now learning about all they do. The more I help, the more I do something to help, it opens doors for me. It makes me feel more confident, and I learn new things about the world – I am a self-proclaimed life learner and it’s really been helping me with that.
Wiser.org is a great 2-way street, I’m able to help but also show what I can do. And it feels great! Volunteering does. Paul Hawken wrote Blessed Unrest primarily to learn about what he doesn’t know, to use writing as a means to explore. It’s the same thing with where I work, the Montessori school. Teaching isn’t one-sided, where I just lecture the children. It’s about exploration.
Anything you’d like to say to people thinking about donating to Wiser.org?
I think there’s no better time to act than now. I read something that said, “If you want to make a change, you don’t have a lot of tomorrows.” You have to grab the chains now to do something. It’s something I teach my children at school, I show them how we are all so privileged to have our basic needs and rights met. Not everyone has that. And with this privilege comes responsibility – we have to take that on, show we appreciate it, and give back.
It’s very important to show that we care about the world we have. We have to do something about it, and any little way counts. If we pool this together, we can really make a difference.
Thank you so much for speaking with us Maria! If you want to hear more from Maria, read about her personal Wiser.org story here.
If you support Wiser.org like Maria does, please consider giving $10 or more today. Your donation will be matched!
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