Not What I Expected

This morning I had a meeting with the NGO I wanted to volunteer for. It was not what I expected. I went there hoping that the meeting would be only for very few (five or less) participants who would be about my age and with no previous experience in that specific organization. I thought that the director of the volunteer programs would explain to us everything about it, maybe even with a nice PowerPoint presentation to help organize the information. That was what had happened when I went to the summer camp’s informative meeting, before sending my curriculum to apply for a job as a counselor. But this meeting was nothing like that.

We were fourteen volunteers. Some of them were my age, but others were older. A few were the parents of autistic teenagers (which was their main reason for participating in that specific organization). Some of us were new there, but many had been volunteers last year too, and maybe even before. There wasn’t just one person doing the presentation; many people alternated to talk, and there didn’t seem to be any prearranged script. They talked about the projects, workshops, campaigns and activities. They read the legal terms out loud for us. But during the meeting there were also many references to past events the new volunteers didn’t know about, which made it harder for me to understand part of what was said.

In spite of all my complaints about the meeting, in which I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask any questions, I think the organization itself is good. Aside from professional-training events, awareness-raising campaigns and services for the families of autistic children and teens, it has programs and workshops for autistic people. They have weekly music classes for young children, art classes for older kids, drama classes for teens and young adults, and weekly outings every Saturday afternoon for relatively independent autistic teenagers. I think I’d love to volunteer in any of those programs.

I was told that they will make a WhattsApp group with all of us who went to the meeting and soon they will start summoning us in it and saying how many volunteers they need for which activity/event and at what time, and we can offer to participate in any of them. After all volunteers wrote our contact information down and signed the contract, we took a selfie and said goodbye. I came back home, called a Mexican friend I met in camp who wanted to talk to me for a while, and then looked around to see what my family was doing. It was past noon, I had not had lunch yet and was getting hungry.

My parents went to visit my grandma, who was feeling ill and had called an ambulance. I waited for them for some time, but in the end I lost my patience and ate some lasagna (leftovers from yesterday) and even cooked something else (which in Spanish is called milanesa de soja). When I was eating my self-made lunch, my mother called to say she was coming to pick my siblings and me up to eat out. My siblings went with her, but I refused. My mother was disappointed about it and tried to convince me to go with them anyway, but I had already eaten and it was almost 3 p.m. I decided to stay.

I had also been planning to go to the support group in the afternoon, but they meet at three p.m., and if I left at that time I would get there 45 minutes late. Besides, I have already had enough unexpected things not going my way for one day. So I didn’t go anywhere and here I am now, at 4 p.m., writing in my journal.

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