Column: Volunteer yourself to be less stressed

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Zi Yang Lai / The Daily Wildcat | The Daily Wildcat

Reegan Wilson, part of Big Brother Big Sister of Tucson, talks to Jon Huckins about his day at school on Oct. 9 at Dove Mountain Park.

Volunteering is an experience both beneficial and satisfying to a stressed college student.

As the semester flexes its muscles, students are beginning to stress harder about classes. Some look to outlets such as partying to let off steam. There is another option, though — volunteering. It's a good way to let off steam and simultaneously help out the community.

Some students view volunteering as just a way to add a line to their resume, but it’s so much more than that. There’s satisfaction in giving one’s time for others. Volunteering allows you to forget about your problems and help other people resolve theirs.

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The best part of volunteering is that there’s a place to volunteer for everybody. If you’re a bookworm, you can volunteer at the library. If feeding the homeless is your passion, head out to a soup kitchen. If you have an interest in community service at all, there’s bound to be a place that is in need of some help.

A few weeks ago, the Arizona Insect Festival reached out for some volunteers, and after coming off a very burdensome chemistry test, I was ecstatic to say yes. Insects have always been something that freaked me out, but it was a chance for me to break out of my shell and explore something I had never dared to approach before.

After signing in with the program coordinator, she asked me if I was comfortable with holding bugs. I reluctantly said yes, and she led me to the largest bug in the exhibit: the Western Hercules beetle.

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The long-horned, male insect crept up and down my arm as hundreds of people passed by the booth during the two-hour period. By listening to my other co-volunteers, I learned that the Western Hercules beetle is the second-largest species in the U.S. They feed only on sap—making it impossible for them to bite humans—and they use their humongous horns to battle other males in order to gain the affection of a potential mate.

Volunteering offers the opportunity to learn facts that you never knew. I didn’t have those facts off the top of my head prior to volunteering, and it was satisfying being able to learn in an environment that isn’t stressful like a classroom.

Another responsibility I had was interacting with the visitors of the booth and relaying to them all of the new facts I had learned. It warmed my heart to see the younger children be so enthusiastic about the beetle. It was also equally amusing to see a few of them reject the idea of allowing a bug to crawl up their arm.

Interacting with people who were so passionate about the insects was a pleasant experience. And these were the people that I was volunteering for. I may be working with the UA Department of Entomology, but the event was for the visitors. It was a gratifying moment to see someone be affected positively by my work.

Volunteering is a unique experience that provides various degrees of satisfaction and also serves as a way to relieve oneself of stress. You learn new facts, develop skills and interact with a new crowd of people. Best of all, there’s a volunteer activity for whatever interests you. So go out there, Wildcats, and see how you can relieve your stress while positively impacting your community.

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