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Unapplied Knowledge: The Key to Effective Learning

Shareef Hussain
Discover the untapped potential of applying knowledge acquired from courses and workshops through volunteering, as it not only allows you to put theory into action but also cultivates a dynamic learning environment where you can continuously refine and expand your skill set while making meaningful contributions to your community and beyond.

Many of us engage in lectures, courses, or workshops—whether in-person, virtually, or by listening. Every year, we invest countless hours in training and self-improvement. Yet, a crucial question lingers: Do we retain anything from these experiences? Do they truly enhance our personal, professional, or practical lives? Do we really benefit others with what we’ve learned? Answers vary based on academic background, experience, and skills. However, the enduring factor is one's passion and driving motivations. 

A fundamental principle prevails in skill development—be it soft or hard skills, "What you don't apply, you won't remember." Imagine attending a time management course. Without implementing changes in your habits and lifestyle—even in the smallest ways—to test the effectiveness of the concepts you learned, the lessons remain elusive. The true lesson isn't merely attendance or listening; it is rather the application, tailored to one's personal, professional, and practical context. 

The inevitable question that now arises is "How can I apply what I've gained from courses or workshops?" If I'm employed, I can implement some of what I learned in my job or at a professional level. But, if I'm not employed or I'm still a student, does that mean I can't put my knowledge into practice? Absolutely not. So, what steps can I take to apply it? In my opinion, the best approach to apply insights gained from courses or workshops is through volunteering. I don’t merely say this because I have been volunteering for the past 17 years, or because of the roles I occupy as a proud volunteer with organizations like the Saudi Red Crescent and the Saudi Ministry of Health, among others. I came to realize that through volunteering, believe it or not, you'll not only put your learning to use, but also gain far more than traditional educational settings offer. In fact, voluntary involvement can sometimes replace the need for additional courses or workshops by equipping you with practical skills. 

I can personally affirm that many of the skills I've developed wouldn't have been honed if not for my involvement in volunteer work. Volunteering operates as a skill-generating factory, unearthing hidden potential that may go unnoticed otherwise. I've encountered men and women who, through volunteering, conquered their fear of public speaking, boosting their self-confidence, positivity, and professional prowess. 

The range of skills you can gain and apply transcends limits. Based on my volunteering experience, these include leadership, team building, effective communication, presentation, public speaking, time management, problem solving, stress management, and handling of pressure. It's crucial to diversify your experiences through different volunteer opportunities and expand your skill set. 

I can hardly quantify the transformation I've experienced. For instance, after participating in prevention campaigns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, my skills were enriched. The significance of diversity across entities and associations is undeniable. It fosters a wide skill spectrum, adapted to varying departments and cultures. 

Volunteering is a significant focus in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, evident through the national volunteering platform ( and various platforms associated with ministries and entities, including the Ministry of Health, the Red Crescent, and municipalities. Notably, Vision 2030, led by His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, envisions a million volunteers in the Kingdom.  

In conclusion, the challenge of possessing skills or applying theoretical learning is never insurmountable. The horizon is open for new experiences and unanticipated discoveries. You hold immense potential—just provide yourself the opportunity to apply what you know and acquire what you don't. 



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