By Aadil F, Chief Marketing and Development Officer, AFS India

Sitting in our homes and offices, we are excessively absorbed in our side of the world to an extent that we don’t find it important to think about the world that exists around us. Water crisis, communal violence, air pollution, climate change, inequality, etc. are real issues plaguing the society around us and demanding an urgent call to action. Each one of us, in our own little ways, need to be aware and contribute to making a change to make this world a better place to live.

With the scale and intensity of these challenges growing worse with each passing day, we need motivated and committed people ready to come together, find solutions, and take a hands-on approach to build a better tomorrow.

AFS is a volunteer-based organization that believes in encouraging its wide network of 53,000+ volunteers and 500,000 alumni worldwide to bring change through a series of changemaking activities, events, and workshops. At AFS India, more than 800 volunteers 1000 alumni are engaged in activities furthering the mission of AFS. We encourage our volunteers to be a changemaker in their own individual way. Here’s what makes them one.

  1. Team Player and Team Builder: Coming from diverse backgrounds, AFS volunteers learn to co-exist and value different opinions while working together. Every volunteer brings commitment and individuality to the project. It is essential to belong to a team and contribute as a team player. Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
  2. Set Goals: Start with something small. Don’t wait for any inspiration to set short term or long term goals. Come together with people for a cause and ideate a plan with goals that can be achieved with the given resources and time. At AFS, we encourage volunteers to set individual and team goals at the beginning that can steer their approach towards it.
  3. Patience and Passion: The two virtues let us grow at many levels. The AFS volunteers practice patience and passion at every level of a project ranging from designing to execution. The key to imbibing these virtues is to stay motivated and surround yourself with people practicing them.
  4. Collaborate: Collaboration is a catalyst in the process of achieving the set goals. At an individual level or organizational level, collaborations can bring together resources with diverse skill sets and further impact. AFS India believes in collaboration and recently collaborated with Youth for Peace International, World Youth Council, and CISV India. Even at the city level, our volunteers are engaging with organizations to co-create projects and community services.
  5. Embrace Failure: Undoubtedly, there will be times when the tide is against us and the project does not go as planned, and we fail. It is important to accept and embrace failure as part of the journey. We teach our volunteers to work tirelessly and pause for a bit to understand the causes of the failure to ensure that we are capable of tackling them the next time. Failures are hard but they make us more focused and determined.

Besides these core five traits that make you a changemaker, there are others like being the voice for others, practicing empathy, and the power of listening. Your school certificates or college degrees do not define your capability as a changemaker, you can be one if you are determined to make a change and focused to bring a ray of hope for the world and future generations, in your own little way.