Last year after finishing years of being in and out of school (2 masters degrees in 7 years) and losing my dog I found myself in need of doing something more meaningful than my first inclination of sitting home in front of the dvd player. A friend of mine suggested volunteering via NY Cares. I did a few projects last year, the main ones being Early Morning Reading (with grade school kids before their school day started) and English Conversation (with adults in the evenings). Both had their good points and bad points but they also left me wanting more structure, consistency and more of a connection. I wasn't so clear last year on what I wanted so it was easier to choose projects.
I have spent the past almost two months trying to decide what to do for my volunteering. Late August is when the longer term projects start organizing, more reading or maybe math with kids this time? Tutoring high school students for their SATs? I have signed up for projects, gone for the training or gone for the first day and decided it wasn't for me. The SAT project was appealing but I realized that I would be spending too much time trying to reconnect myself with math that I never learned well in the first place--how could I help someone else master it if it was still foreign for me?
Finally I went to another website that connects volunteers with organizations with needs, Idealist. There I found what I clearly had in the back of my mind but hadn't clearly articulated yet even to myself--a small organization in Chinatown that teaches English. I went for the interview/information session last week and start next week. I have great hopes for this, this organization has been teaching English for awhile, you teach in a team of 3 so there is good support for new teachers. There is prep work to do, but everyone takes turns so it shouldn't be too much of a time commitment--always a concern for me.
Actually I tried signing up with this group before, last winter in fact. But their semester ended too late, I would miss the last 3 weeks or so because of my summer trip to Hong Kong so it was bad timing. This clearly was meant to be because the last class of the semester is Dec. 15. I leave for my next trip to Hong Kong the very next day. :)
As for how satisfying an experience it is, time will tell I guess.