Melissa Jonas, 23 years old, Platteklip Glen, Cape Town
Melissa was studying towards a B Com in Financial Management. Her mom encouraged her to take a gap year and she decided to go for it.
Initially Melissa “was very nervous about working with people I didn’t know, but very excited about working with the learners.” Melissa was placed at Leiden High in Delft. “It was really amazing being able to give a year of my life to make a difference in the lives of the learners.” Melissa said she couldn’t have chosen a better team to work with. “Everyone was just so dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the learners.” Melissa loved the art in the self-development programme. “It was really lovely being able to express myself through art. It also helped me de-stress from the pressures of work.”
Melissa says that being “at Year Beyond placed her in an environment with different kinds of people that I would never have encountered on a normal day in my life. I have learnt how other people with different life experiences and different cultures can add value to my life. So now when I am in a situation with people who are different to me I take the time to first see what I can learn and how I can use their life experiences to grow as a person. Volunteering has also taught me that giving someone a hand-out doesn’t work. Being a real volunteer helps you truly see how people live everyday so you can meet them where they are at and give them some of your time. This way they are truly uplifted.”
Melissa plans to complete her degree and work in financial services.
Her advice to a prospective Year Beyond volunteer:
“I would say that it is a brilliant opportunity to grow and become more aware of your role in society and how simple it is to uplift the community.”