Volunteering During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Personal Reflection

By Wilzen Bermoy

As a first-time Ugnayan ng Pahinungód (teaching) volunteer, I started my journey feeling bewildered. For one, I had a hard time balancing my full-time teaching job with my coursework as a part-time doctorate student, not to mention the anxiety and depression I dealt with when I was quarantined for days. Then, I was unable to attend the first team virtual meeting with other volunteers. When I was able to join the second meeting, I was not on time. Thus, I felt overwhelmed with all the tasks and reminders while anxious about how things flow so fast and how I needed to catch up on a lot of information to be on board with my teammates. But my worries lessened when I attended the virtual meeting with the rest of the volunteers, and I enjoyed the self-introduction part during the breakout session, especially the games. 

Thankfully, I was teamed with two very dedicated and amiable volunteers: Concepcion “Connie” Rongalerios and Genesis Kelly “Gemmy” Lontoc. I am grateful because I learned a lot by collaborating with them even though all three of us were first-time volunteers. Like Gemmy, I realized that the Bridge Program has evidenced how teaching and learning can still be effective in virtual settings. Another insight that I share with Gemmy is the importance of incorporating the modules with teaching examples situated in the Philippine context or embodying Filipino culture.

On the other hand, Connie and I both felt that deepening the learners’ understanding of concepts would necessitate us to find other references and not just rely on what is printed on the given modules. Reviewing for the course delivery gave us an added sense of confidence, especially in guiding learners to apply the grammatical and stylistic conventions when using English across day-to-day communication scenarios.

We were also able to conduct virtual team meetings as we prepared for each synchronous session with our learners. External factors like a power outage in my area (not to mention typhoon) have prompted me to communicate with my teammates with sincerity to catch up. I asked them if there are tasks that I can negotiate switching with, especially those not necessarily needed to be delivered first. I am so proud of our team!

When interacting with the learners during synchronous sessions, I felt nostalgic because I saw myself in them. I, too, was this learner who struggled with English. Throughout the synchronous session, I had to endure intermittent technical and connection issues while on Zoom. Still, we were able to go on with our lesson since my teammates would take over whenever I get disconnected.

With all my accomplished tasks as well as in-between mishaps, I’d say that I enjoyed my time as a volunteer. And I would like to be part of the next offering still. Thank you very much, UPOU Online Bridge Program Team, for your guidance and moral support. Thank you very much to Ugnayan ng Pahinungód and the Faculty of Education for this experience and the chance to be of service to others.

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