The Accidental Emcee

At the opening of a brand new year, I found myself in the nosebleed seat of life, peering at all my heartaches sitting courtside. From this distant vantage point, it was easy to feel disconnected, overwhelmed by personal sorrows and the relentless hum of daily obligations. A nagging thought began to take root: perhaps it was time to shift my focus outward, to find solace and purpose beyond my own woes.

In my place of work, someone pops in my inbox and asks me to explain a self-care problem—sometimes, a hard one—and I do. And then they say, “Thank you,” and leave. In my friendship circle, someone asks me to explain a technique, I do. It struck me that in these small moments, I felt a fleeting sense of fulfillment. These interactions, though brief, hinted at the possibility that helping others could be a way to help myself.

But late 2023, I realised volunteering is more than just altruism; it’ll be a source of my personal growth and fulfilment. It’ll offer me opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone, learn new skills, and gain a deeper understanding of the world around me. Embarking on this new path, I began my search for volunteer opportunities. The process was overwhelming at first—so many causes, so many needs, and so many options. When I first met the folks at VIVA, early this year, the ladies were in the midst of planning their 18th Symposium of the St. Jude-VIVA Forum in Paediatric Oncology. Their passion for their cause was palpable, and their dedication to making a difference in the lives of children battling cancer was inspiring. As they shared their mission and the impact of their work, I knew I had found the perfect opportunity to contribute to something meaningful. Joining VIVA as a volunteer was both exhilarating and daunting. Stepping into the world of paediatric oncology was like entering a new universe, one filled with challenges, heartache, and moments of profound joy. As I attended meetings, helped with event planning, and interacted with fellow volunteers, I felt a mix of emotions—compassion, empathy, and a deep sense of responsibility.

In addition to my general volunteer duties, I took on the role of a copywriter for VIVA’s social media, booklet, and other promotional materials. Perhaps the most memorable experiences during my time with VIVA was serving as an emcee for their symposium. Stepping onto the stage in front of a room filled with experts, researchers, and families affected by childhood cancer was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. But at the end of the day, I felt a sense of purpose and pride in being able to contribute to such an important cause. Being able to use my voice to advocate for paediatric oncology research and support was a truly humbling experience.

As I bid adieu to my volunteering stint with VIVA, I can’t help but reflect on the rollercoaster ride it has been. From the highs of emceeing like a pro to the lows of wondering if I bit off more than I could chew, it’s been a journey filled with twists, turns, and unexpected detours. But amidst the chaos and confusion, there’s one thing I know for sure: volunteering may not always be sunshine and rainbows, but it’s in those stormy moments that we find our true strength and resilience. So here’s to embracing the imperfections, learning from the challenges, and finding humour in the hiccups along the way. As I step off this wild ride, I carry with me the memories, the lessons, and a newfound appreciation for the messy, beautiful adventure that is volunteering. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll hop back on for another round. Until then, I’ll raise a glass to the volunteers, the unsung heroes, and the eternal optimists who make the world a brighter place. Cheers!

Selfie from March 2nd, 2024, when I woke up at 5am to play emcee!