Volunteering. We all know what it is and heard about it: Our friends share about their volunteer achievements, our teachers emphasize its “importance” in college applications, etc. In general, volunteering is usually displayed as an act of enormous kindness and consideration everywhere.
I understood what volunteering was at a very early age, as my mom was very enthusiastic about doing community service for our town’s Catholic church. To my own comprehension as a 6-year-old kid, volunteering simply meant- to give something to the less fortunate without expecting anything back. The idea of not desiring any form of payment for something significant that I have done gave me a sense of pride and satisfaction, for a reason I couldn’t quite fathom. Its meanings and importance urged me to do something; but, growing up in self-doubt, I always believed I had nothing to offer to the world.
When I first came to the U.S. in 9th grade, I found the definition and act of volunteering were carried differently. Volunteer, or community service, is strongly inspired in schools and communities, sometimes even required. I was fascinated by a world where doing good deeds “for free” was so common and encouraged. Nonetheless, there was something wrong, specifically in the way my peers perceived the intentions of it.
Seeing my friends engaged in community service and explaining its purpose as to “look good on college applications” instead of “I want to help people,” I began to wonder- Since when did volunteering become a requirement and not an act with a sole purpose to help others?
Volunteering is not just about sweeping leaves in the park or serving in the kitchen. It’s about devoting a portion of your time and energy to something or some people, without wanting anything in return. By volunteering, you will believe that the world is a better place because of your contribution.
The volunteer job that you have does not have to be impressive nor conspicuous to anyone, but it must have a profound meaning for you. It ought to deliver to you a sense of genuine pride and contentment when you finish the work, not just when you put it in your resume or college application. There are plenty of ways to volunteer, as well as plenty of intentions that each of us carries.
People are born in different and unique circumstances; thus, we’re more and less privileged than each other in countless ways. Sometimes, the privilege that you own doesn’t only lie in the smartphone or piece of jewelry that you have. From now on, start to appreciate all of the “ordinary” things in your life, like the clean water that is too boring to drink, the mundane home-cooked food that you have every day, or the annoying homework lying on your desk. You can only give away to others truly when you’re thankful for what you already have.
No matter where you’re from or how much money you make, there’s always a way to contribute to enhancing the world we’re living in day-by-day. Never underestimate the power of giving away, for no matter how small or big the gift is, someone is better off because of something you do voluntarily.
We’re all geniuses in our own way, in both what we achieve and what we can give. Remember to volunteer by heart, not just in request or demand.
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