What I’ve gotten out of being involved with organizations on campus like Amnesty and Oxfam, AKA: Not Bad, for an Undergrad
September 20, 2013
As with every experience that you’ve ever had, the most common question that comes to people’s minds when asking about involvement with Non-Government Organizations is: Why?
That question has many possible answers. It also has a lot of possible sub-questions: Why spend so much time on these organizations? Why are they important to you? Why do you believe you are making a difference?
To the first question, I respond: because I feel like I have an obligation to help someone who is in a less fortunate situation than I am. It can be difficult to explain to peers who come from similar backgrounds that most of the world actually doesn’t have most of the privileges we enjoy. We have never lived in fear of speaking the truth because of the threat of punishment as a result. We don’t know what it’s like to have to worry about receiving an honest income for our labor because we live in a society where these kinds of rights are demanded on a regular basis. The more time I have spent working with Oxfam and Amnesty International, the more I have realized that I have a responsibility to share the stories of the millions of voices that go unheard, and that all of us need to rally together to make sure that they are.
My response to the second question is: these organizations are important to me because they’re important to everyone. They help us to fully understand what the human condition is, and I think everyone on this planet should honor it. Through my volunteer work I have discovered what it is like to break past socio-economic barriers and see someone for all of their distinctiveness. It is such a humbling and eye-opening experience to realize that something you have done for someone has changed their life, and once you experience it, you will want to experience it an infinite number of more times. It really helps you stay focused on the bigger picture. Hopefully you will realize that just because you are a very small part of the world does not mean that you don’t have the ability to make any kind of impact on it.
And finally, I believe that I am making a difference because I see it all around me. I know that the students collaborating on these efforts are learning from each other while making unbreakable ties. We learn how to push to achieve end goals that may have been more difficult than initially anticipated, we learn how to hustle and stay on top of deadlines, we learn how to sacrifice time to make sure that we can accomplish planning to the best of our abilities, and we learn how to use our creativity to fundraise for events. Students remember who we are and what we have to offer to the community. They look to us for suggestions on how to merge fundraisers, and the kind of people power it takes to do it. We encourage other students to actively take a role in the community that they are in, and to demand change when something isn’t happening the way they believe it should. We help shape the development of tomorrow’s leaders. Not bad for an undergrad.