Jack struck an immediate bond with his senior client Jeff and values an experience that has given him a different perspective on their Chinese community. He shares how their friendship is grounded in genuine camaraderie and mutual respect for their culture, interests, and background.
How did you first hear about our volunteer program and what motivated you to join?
I heard about the volunteer program from Ballarat Multicultural Centre. I enjoy doing voluntary work and believe helping others is the same as helping yourself and you will live a happy life. In addition to this program, I serve as a volunteer community Taichi teacher, conducting classes every morning for the community near Lake Wendouree. During my spare time, I teach English to Chinese migrants and actively participate in supporting various multicultural events in Ballarat.
How did you feel when you first met your client?
This is the first time I have volunteered as a visitor to an older individual, but when I first visited my client, Jeff, I felt an immediate connection. We had a very pleasant talk, learning about each other, professional experiences, and our varied interests. We both have a caring nature, and we share a common commitment to our community and helping others.
One unforgettable moment was when Jeff shared some amazing photos he had taken. He is a good photographer, and I was very impressed. He has also shown me his collection of old and traditional Chinese furniture, acquired many years ago, which were both delicate and intricately designed.
Can you share a memorable moment you enjoyed with your client?
I’ve gained insights into Jeff’s past, his family, migrating to Australia, his experiences, and the challenges he faces with his physical and mobility issues. Our conversations have provided me with a new perspective, as Jeff’s life experiences are very different from mine.
What are your thoughts on how cultural diversity impacts the experience of loneliness among older individuals, and how do you believe we can better address this issue within our volunteer program?
The major challenges faced by seniors from different cultures, particularly the Chinese community, include a lack of English communication skills, leading to a fear of socialising and meeting local people. This makes it difficult for them to understand local societal norms, potentially increasing their sense of loneliness.
One approach to address these concerns could involve recruiting volunteers with similar cultural backgrounds, providing a supportive environment for seniors to gradually overcome these challenges during their visits.
What advice do you have for others who may be interested in joining our program?
My advice is quite simple – be kind, patient, smile, and listen.
How has your volunteering in this program impacted your perspective of companionship for older people?
I feel seniors really need social interaction and companionship from volunteers and other people. Providing them with this type of support may help them feel happier and positive towards life, contributing towards harmonious individuals and compassionate communities.