Mr. Gillespie who has 30 years’ experience as a reporter and editor at the largest newspaper in Canada now is an advisor and teacher of VHV for free online English classes project. It is our pleasure to have an interview with him.
As a person who has done many volunteer works, why did you choose volunteering and what do you think about true volunteering?
There are many reasons why people volunteer. Some volunteer to meet people. Some volunteer to share some skill or knowledge they have. Many of the volunteers I know from around the world who help others with English do it to gain more teaching experience. Many want to teach in a foreign country and believe they will improve their skills through volunteer work experience. Some volunteer because they believe they should contribute to the world and volunteering is one way to do that.
I am not sure what true volunteering is. Perhaps it is those people who simply volunteer to contribute to the world but I also think that people with different motivations make valuable contributions to volunteer organizations. I started volunteer work as a way to gain experience in teaching English and to meet others from different countries and cultures.
Have you ever felt tired of volunteering? What motivated you to keep going?
That is a very good question. I sometimes wonder what is the point, yes. But my frustration is not with individuals I work with because I find something interesting in each person I work with. My frustration is usually about how well or poorly a group is organized to effectively achieve its purpose. Some are better than others. But all are striving to help make the world a tiny bit better so how well a group accomplishes its goal is a very small problem.
Why do you think people should do volunteer work?
The best motivation is a pure desire to help others. But there aren’t many saints in the world, just normal people and normal people are motivated by other things. I am content if people volunteer because it helps them as well as the people they volunteer to help. The help they give is as important as their motivation.
In a poor country like Vietnam, people think that they should make money to maintain their lives before thinking about volunteering. What do you think about that?
The desire to feed your family is deeply held by all of us so there is nothing wrong with putting that first. It would be wrong to expect people to sacrifice themselves in order to volunteer. It is true that there a few among us who do make bigger sacrifices but they are a special kind of person, someone we all admire and respect. That we all do not have the strength to do that is a fact of life. But those special ones who will sacrifice more deserve a special respect from all of us. They are a model to each of us.
Some think that volunteer works are only for retired people or kids because they have nothing to do. Young people should spend time on their careers to build their futures. Do you agree with that?
I know lots of young people in Canada and other countries who volunteer while they are building their careers. They volunteer for three reasons. Firstly, they believe they should contribute. Secondly, they gain invaluable lessons in life by volunteering. Lastly, any gain leadership skills and experience that can help them in their jobs and careers.
You had to delay your own plans because of helping VHV members in Online English courses. Why did you choose to help VHV?
I love the philosophy of VHV. It is difficult for some people in Vietnam to improve themselves by learning English because it can be expensive. I wish money was not a barrier to education and this project is attempting to bridge that gap by providing free instruction. I help in a very small way by having conversation practice with a few members of the group. It is not a big thing but I am happy if I can make a contribution.
What was it in VHV that impressed you most? What do you think about VHV, the members of VHV and what VHV has done?
There are several things that impress me. But probably the biggest thing is to hear members talk about how they have found new motivation by working with VHV. Some have told me that they work harder to help others and they are more focused as well on achieving their own personal dreams. The desire to do those things has become greater because of their involvement and work with VHV. The group has helped many volunteers to find new meaning in their life and dreams.
Our first anniversary is coming soon. If you have to say only a sentence to wish for VHV, what do you want to say?
“I wish you a long and happy life”.