Neringa Kurapkaitienė


Volunteering is always implemented through the time a person spends on volunteering, the duration of the commitment, the area in which they volunteer, and the age group of the volunteers. This research considers the long term and full-time volunteering of young adults in the field of social help. The object of this research is the volunteering experiences of young adults. The research question is: How do young adults experience volunteering in the field of social assistance? This article discusses only one finding of the study – the transformational experience of the acceptance of the Other in the field of social help. The design of the study was based on Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (Smith et al., 2009). The study was conducted according to the methodology of interpretive phenomenological analysis in order to analyze the significance and meaning of the volunteering experiences of young adults. One of the most promising aspects of the research participants’ experience was the transformative experience of encountering the Other person, which became relevant to all research participants and needs to be presented separately. The experiences of the volunteers revealed not only their responsibility for the receivers of help, but also the relationship of dependence with those whom volunteers helped. The openness of the volunteers to the vulnerable, help-requiring Other become a deep and long-term educational process of selfacceptance and self-becoming for the volunteers themselves. For volunteers, the otherness of the Other was the key to the acceptance of their own otherness. Volunteering creates an asymmetrical relationship, where the volunteer has more perceived power by providing help and the help-receiver is perceived as belonging away from the volunteer. In the process of volunteering, however, it is impossible to stay in these positions of perceived power, because the volunteer needs to learn how to coexist from the help-receiver. The help-receiver therefore becomes a teacher for the volunteer. This changing relationship with the Other taught volunteers to accept the weaknesses, disabilities, and failings of the Other, and at the same time to accept those within themselves. The volunteers started to see themselves as “not as nice as I thought of myself before”, which gave them a more realistic and acceptable self-view. By accepting themselves and their mistakes, volunteers were emboldened to live and act with their weaknesses and imperfections.


Social Work