How to Get Involved

Three Methods:Getting Involved at SchoolGetting Involved in Your CommunityExpanding Your World

Get the most out of your world. Being more present in your world means putting yourself out there and getting involved. You can do this at school, in your own neighborhood, and in the world at large.

Method 1
Getting Involved at School

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    Join an academic club. It's easy to just go to class and then go home. But if you want to get more out of your school experience, join an academic club at your school. Each school will have a variety of clubs. Check out what's available at your school, or consider talking to a teacher about starting your own. Common academic clubs include:
    • Math Club
    • Foreign Language Club
    • Geology, Biology, or Zoology Club
    • Drama Club
    • Speech Club
    • Reading or Book Club
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    Join a club that isn't academic. Clubs should be fun, not extra homework. At most schools, even the academic clubs are a blast, but other clubs might be more appealing. Here's a list of common leisure clubs available at some schools:
    • Chess Club
    • Video Game Club
    • Dodgeball Club
    • Ultimate Frisbee Club
    • Drill Team
    • Gay-Straight Alliance
    • Knitting Club
    • Film Club
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    Run for student government. Student government allows students to participate directly in the school community. All student governments are run differently, but there are a variety of positions available. Usually, there will be a student council with representatives from all the home-room classes in each grade.
    • Ask a guidance counselor for more information about student council campaigns at your school. Ask what you need to do to get involved.
    • You don't have to be the president to get a good student council experience, and student government isn't a popularity contest. The kids who get involved are typically pretty involved and pretty dedicated to academics, which means you might feel right at home there if you do too.
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    Join a sports team. Athletic teams help students make friends, get physical, and have fun competing. If you enjoy playing sports, trying out for an athletic team at your school can be a great option.
    • Team sports usually include basketball, volleyball, football, baseball/softball, tennis, and sometimes soccer.
    • If you're not a big fan of team sports, check out other options. Track and field, cross country, swimming, and other sports are sometimes offered at schools.
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    Join the band, orchestra, or choir. Playing music offers a great outlet for all kinds of students. If you want to learn to play an instrument, you can join band or orchestra and make great friends while you do it. If you want to be musical without an instrument, the choir is a great choice.
    • Orchestral instruments include violin, viola, cello, and double-bass.
    • Band instruments include woodwinds like flute, clarinet, and saxophone, as well as brass instruments like trumpet, trombone, french horn, and tuba. Percussion is usually also a part of the school band.
    • Choir is usually divided by vocal range. Some schools offer performance choirs, which involve dancing, as well as more traditional vocal choirs.
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    Take an art class. At some schools, the art department is like a separate school entirely. If you enjoy drawing, painting, photography, or other artistic pursuits, consider signing up for art classes and hanging out with the artsy kids at your school. This can be a great way to find a community and make art.
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    Make different kinds of friends. Most schools aren't like the movies. The "jocks" don't just hang out with the jocks. Real life can be a lot more diverse than what you see on television. To get involved in your school social life, try to make as many different kinds of friends as possible. Open up your worldview by having a large and dynamic group of friends.
    • Hang out with people in your classes, and hang out with people from the clubs or teams you belong to. Hang out with people from your neighborhood. Hang out with people from different kinds of families than the one you live in.
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    Know when to ask for help. At some schools, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you don't want to be a ghost, it's up to you to reach out and get help when you need it. Talk to your teachers and get to know them. Let them get to know you.
    • Remember, you're at school to learn. That doesn't just mean book-learning. Learning how to admit when you're wrong, admit you need help, and figure out what it takes to better yourself are all important school lessons.

Method 2
Getting Involved in Your Community

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    Meet your neighbors. Sometimes, there are big fences between our yards, and those fences aren't crossed nearly as often as they should be. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, even if you've lived there for a while. Talk to them. Find out what they do, what they're like, and who they are as people. Just a five-minute chat can do a lot to get you more involved in your community.
    • try to do this as soon as possible after you move to a new neighborhood, or a new building. Just knock on the door and introduce yourself. If you notice someone new in the neighborhood, bring over a couple beers or a plate of cookies to help say hello.
    • If you have a problem with a neighbor, talk to them about it. Don't leave passive-aggressive notes on their door. Get some face time and talk in a calm voice, even if you're frustrated with something.
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    Meet and support local business owners. Shopping locally helps to keep money local. The more you spend at local businesses, the better your community. Why? Recent studies show that locally-owned independent businesses reinvest nearly twice the amount of money in a local economy, compared to a chain store.[1]
    • Sometimes, local products may cost a little more, but you can also put a face on the cost. Meet who is selling you your produce. Learn where it comes from. Talk to the people who own the salon you visit, or the grocery store where you shop.[2]
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    Join a social group. Local social organizations are a great way to meet new friends and neighbors. Depending on where you live and what's available, there are usually all sorts of options related to sports, socializing, and other activities. Here are some common ones:
    • Book clubs
    • Surfing, hiking, or rock climbing clubs
    • Shooting ranges and gun clubs
    • Wine, whiskey, or cigar tasting
    • Churches and youth groups
    • Moose Clubs, Elk Lodges, and other fraternal organizations
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    Follow local politics. National politics are important, but it's possibly more important to familiarize yourself with the people making decisions in your town. Learn more about your local representatives and get involved in local decision-making.
    • Find out about town halls in your area to make sure your voice can be heard. Write to your representative to let them know how you're feeling about particular topics.
    • Lots of news is available online for free these days, but it's still good to subscribe to the local paper to help support and fund local reporting. If you want news from where you live, read the local paper. Lots of local papers have a big online presence anyway, which means you can subscribe and read on your computer if you want.
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    Attend or organize community events. Participate in your community directly by attention community events, or organizing them if they aren't available. Getting people out to mingle with friends and neighbors is vital to the health of any community.
    • Go big, if you feel the energy is there. Throw a big rally for a local political cause, or organize a street fair to help support local businesses.
    • Just getting together with a few friends for a weekly football watching group at a local restaurant or bar helps you stay involved in a small way. Attend local concerts or other local events to support other people who are doing things in your community.

Method 3
Expanding Your World

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    Follow global politics. It's important to have one foot in your community, but it's also very important to stay aware of what's going on outside of your narrow scope of vision. If you live in a small town, you may be quite disconnected from what's going on overseas. This makes it even more important to get informed and stay up to date.
    • The 24-hour news cycle tends to focus on sensationalized stories and partisan politics. try to check out a variety of sources of information, both online and in print, to stay up to date.
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    Get involved directly with social causes you feel strongly about. If you feel passionately about a particular issue at stake in your world, join up with an association or organization that reflects your beliefs. If you care passionately about civil liberties, or womens' rights, or family values, volunteer your time, money, and effort with the appropriate association.
    • You can learn more about getting active and supporting a social cause directly by reading this article.[3]
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    Join a mentorship program. If you want to contribute directly to someone's life, join a mentorship program. These typically pair willing adults with children or teens who are either at risk, or could just use a friend. There are lots of programs devoted to mentorship, but local Boys and Girls Clubs are a good place to get started.[4]
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    Get involved directly with conservation efforts you feel strongly about. Pay attention not only to social issues, but environmental issues as well. Whether you care deeply about pollution in the oceans, or the land and water rights of farmers in the middle of the country, it's important to get informed about the issues facing the earth and participate in the conversation.
    • Learn more about what you can do to conserve energy at home or at work by reading this article.
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    Get plugged into social networking. Life moves pretty fast. If you want to stay connected to the wider world, social networking is a great way to do it. You can follow your friends, both near and far, to stay up to date with their lives. You can also quickly and easily following trending topics, getting a feed of articles and content you might never find otherwise. Learn more about using a new social networking platform with the following articles:
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    Stay up to date with new technology. Even if you're not the biggest tech-person in the world, nobody wants to be left behind. But you don't have to be first in line at the Apple store when the new gadget comes out to have a working knowledge of texting, video chatting, and cloud computing.

Article Info

Categories: Volunteer and Community Service