Sometime I forget what service is and why I do it. Then, I go back and read this and realize what it means to me. This may be relatable to some.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others say Mahatma Gandhi.
Service is not a word it’s an action. It’s an action that started for me when I was almost 8 years old. I served at my religious place of worship, served for the poor, the weak, served with families, served with friends, served alone. From teaching English to a foreign student or serving food at a soup kitchen or painting homes, and sometimes even playing BINGO at a nursing home, I found service to be my place of joy and happiness. Service reminded and continues to remind me that each person in this world is unique and comes with their own sets of challenges and problems. Serving others made me feel like I was giving back to communities and people around me who would do the same if they were able to. Sometimes if you feel useless or feel like nothing, remember what Charles Dickens says-“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another”.
Through working for the Bonner Scholars program, a scholarship based on community engagement and service, I realized that this was my PASSION and this is how I wanted to spend the REST of my life. Working for non-profit organizations and providing services to people is the way I want to be. I want to GIVE for the rest of my life.
How is service connected to all of us? Throughout this speech you have heard the words service reemphasized over and over again. You may be thinking that service isn’t something I do or something I have time for or have ever done.
However, you may also recall that this is Berry’s Mission “students’ intellectual, moral and spiritual growth; proffers lessons that are gained from worthwhile work done well; and challenges them to devote their learning to community and civic betterment. Berry emphasizes an educational program committed to high academic standards, values based on Christian principles, practical work experience and community service in a distinctive environment of natural beauty”.
This is the mission that we identify with and we’re in some way or form accepted into Berry. It is not only a part of our Berry College mission but also a part of our IDENTITY.
Within this IDENTITY, Every day we knowingly or unknowingly serve people in need and give back. Maybe you pick up a piece of trash on the floor or give encouragement and kind words to a friend. These small acts of kindness are a form of service to others around you. Synonyms of the action “service” that you hear often are “volunteer, share, serve, give, love, and help”. These everyday acts of kindness are a type of service. Therefore, if you already serve in small ways, how can we serve with larger acts of kindness and continue to feel joy and love as we serve?
By serving knowingly. Currently I am volunteering and interning at Summit Quest and the Sexual Assault Center of Rome, GA. You don’t have to jump right in and commit to something big. Start with something small that you enjoy doing. If you like to read, spend some time reading to low income elementary school students like the Boys and Girls Club. If you like to be outside with nature, plant a flower or a tree. Combine your hobby/passion/love and make it a service opportunity.
Mathematically, there are 23 students and one teacher in this class including me. If each of us does one act of kindness each day that’s 23 acts of kindness towards our humanity. If we continue to do this for a week that 161 acts of kindness in a week. How about for a month? That 690 acts of kindness in one month. This is the effect of service. We can help make a difference in countless ways.
Service is an action that can change the lives of the volunteer. There are many benefits to service-learning. According to Sonama State University’s Center for Community Engagement, students can experience what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply those skills. Students can gain a sense of responsibility within the community and be more aware of the diverse range of issues facing societies today. They can also become more open-minded and plan future endeavors in community service. Continued in the article, it explained research on service-learning and how it shows positive impacts on learning outcomes by increasing academic learning, creating a desire to learn, and even a positive impact in real-world knowledge and application. Further there are personal benefits like growth in identity development, teamwork, leadership and communication. Socially, volunteers tend to be more aware of stereotypes and racial prejudices. Career development and focus in future development has been known to significantly increase due to service learning.
With all of these benefits and positive outcome, this is something we can instill now within children. Did you know that only 2 out of the 50 states require service learning in their high schools according to the Education Commission of the States? Service is something that has so many benefits to the volunteer and the recipient of the service. Why don’t we instill this now within our children so the future doesn’t hold criminal, terrorists, or uneducated people but rather those who will contribute to the society in a meaningful way. This is a growing issue that demands our attention. Each day we are letting children and adults, too, become unaware of the social injustices in the world and the ways in which we are capable of helping them. Earlier I described the impact we as a class could make, now imagine if we just made a few hours of service compulsory for high school students?