On the cusp of my two-year anniversary as a lifeguard and a swim instructor, I have been reflecting on my experiences at the pool where I work and how they have shaped how I navigate the world as a high school girl. Forming relationships with people from the community that so graciously accepted me in the Spring of 2021 has not only affected how I think about things as a lifeguard and a swim instructor but also as a person. My shifts over the years have transformed into volunteer service instead of paid work to express how grateful I am for what I receive each time I walk through the doors of my community center. Not only have I grown into myself outside of that community with school and activities, but I have emotionally matured as a product of learning from both old and young swimmers.
As a lifeguard, I watch the pool and chat with people as they walk in and out of the locker rooms. While I have not formed an intimate relationship with each person who walks through those foggy glass doors, I have formed friendships with many and learned from them during every conversation we have; even a few of the older ladies and I email and text every once and a while during the school year. They always check up on me when they have not seen my face around for a little while. As a swim instructor, I am in the pool with my swimmers for lessons that last between 30-60 minutes. Gaining the trust of young kids to guide them into the foreign underwater world is a gift. Over the course of my time working, I have instructed over 65 kids, ages 3-9. Each one of my swimmers has their own story, goals, dreams, and fears that I get to learn about while I teach them dolphin kicks and back floats.
While not everyone has the same access as I do to a local community center, if you do, I encourage you to explore that space and widen your social horizon. There are opportunities for you to serve the community that surrounds you, whether you know it to be there or not. Similarly, when you see volunteers or employees at community centers, share stories or joy with them, because that is almost always the sole purpose for why they are there.