You’ve probably been wondering. How did a seventeen-year-old like me find salvation in volunteer work?
Now, I’m not here to blast your minds with some philosophical panegyric about the satisfaction I derive from helping others…the answer’s quite simple, really.
It just makes me happy. And in today’s day and age, many people I know find being happy really hard. Myself included. This is happening, that is happening, everything is basically horrible.
So on one of those extremely boring summer days, I found Givology. I was literally scrolling through Forbes’ list of this and that and looking at pictures of Fan Bing Bing and Andy Lau. But I digress.
Anyway on Forbes’ list of 30 under 30, I found Joyce Meng and Jennifer Chen. Both 27 years old and already founded a non-profit organization? Sounds like something my mom would want me to do.
I hopped on to the Givology website, deciding that I might as well waste more time; if procrastination were a class, I’d be considered an overachiever. I had to study for ACTs, but you know.
[i]Ma Guijun? Whose that?[/i]
[i]Dang…kid who doesn’t have enough money to go to school? Sad…[/i]
Let’s cut to the chase. You know that feeling when you know something is just right for you? That one feeling that people always talk about in the movies when they fall in love?
Well I didn’t exactly fall in love with Givology, if we’re going to be specific here. But I just felt really weird inside. A genuine desire to help Ma Guijun go to school?
No. Not really.
A burning passion to help all children go to school.
Now I sound insane. It’s amazing how passion changes you. All those years of listening to people telling me to follow my heart; I hear you now.
I scrolled down pages and pages of letters from children in Colombia, Somaliland, China thanking donors for their contributions, thanking donors for allowing them to go to school. I read biographies of children who lived miles away from the nearest school. Yes, I had heard the endless lectures of many children not having access to education in many different countries; I guess this time the lesson hit home.
I was a little frustrated inside. I wanted to give. I wanted to help.
I’m an idealistic teenager. So when I clicked on the “Get Involved” tab and saw that I could for once truly make a difference in peoples’ lives, I jumped at the opportunity. I imagined ecstatic children waving their diplomas in the air. I imagined children going to a university and absorbing the world’s infinite knowledge database. I imagined grown men and women building communities and a better tomorrow.
I imagined a world of happiness.
Of course, as history has shown us, the world isn’t any better than it was 500 years ago. Human trafficking, class divisions, the rich hanging over the poor—these all still exist.
But I’m young and naïve. So I still believe, despite what my history teachers and textbooks tell me, that I can make the world better. I can give the children of tomorrow a better world.
You might be thinking, “How are you different from anybody else? You want to help people but the world’s not going to be any better.”
And I say to you, practical individuals, yes, history repeats itself. No, I’m not any more special than anyone else on this earth.
But making a difference in a child’s life, giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential in their transient existence in this world—what more could I ask for?
In the end, I gave somebody’s world a better tomorrow.