The Importance of International Volunteers

The Importance of International Volunteers

International Perspectives

Nov 21, 2019

Dr. Clarissa Mathias headshotBy Clarissa Mathias, MD
Chair-Elect, ASCO International Affairs Committee

If you are an international member of ASCO, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how great it is to be part of ASCO’s volunteer program and the impact you can have as a volunteer for ASCO. This opportunity can really foster your career and create great opportunities for networking and long-lasting friendships. On a personal basis, I’ve created, through friendships made possible by ASCO, great relationships that have resulted in mentorship opportunities for fellows and the exchange of educational experience. Sharing a committee or a task force with members from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America is a unique venue to understand each others' difficulties and create solutions, some of which have already improved cancer care in several parts of the world. I can only thank ASCO for inviting me to be part of the International Development and Education Award (IDEA) program and being involved in the selection process of these young awardees and in their ASCO Annual Meeting experience.  

Today, more than ever, ASCO is a global society, with more than 45,000 members in more than 120 countries. ASCO’s global community was really kick-started in 1996, when the International Affairs Committee was founded as a task force of ASCO and received committee status a year later. Now, ASCO has many programs that address the needs of and engage ASCO’s international members and foster relationships with the international oncology community. All of these great tasks depend on the time and expertise of hundreds of volunteers.

I mention the International Affairs Committee not only to highlight the volunteer opportunities that the committee and its programs offer to ASCO members, but also to illustrate the profound impact that volunteers can have on the future direction of ASCO. The members who served on the first International Affairs Committee in the 1990s must be amazed by the impact that their early work has had on their Society. The truth is, volunteers are having similar impact on ASCO every day on a range of committees and volunteer groups throughout the organization.

There are several types of volunteer opportunities such as committees, steering groups, and task forces through the ASCO Volunteer Corps. Volunteers earn FASCO points toward the Fellow of ASCO distinction, which recognizes volunteers for their service and dedication to ASCO. ASCO members are eligible to become a Fellow of ASCO once they have accumulated 100 or more points for volunteer service to ASCO.

If you would like to volunteer, submit an application on the ASCO Volunteer Portal, the dedicated website for volunteer information. Make sure to describe your main interests in volunteering and include background information about yourself that will help ASCO match you to the right opportunity. Current Volunteer Corps opportunities are posted online. These specific opportunities are updated throughout the year by staff across ASCO, depending on the specific need.

Making ASCO even more global and diverse in ways that reflect the diverse talents and perspectives of the ASCO community will really help cancer care all over the world. Thank you for your consideration.


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