Working as one of Jolkonaâ€™s summer interns has helped me a great deal. Not only have I gained experience in a business setting and developed skills that will help me in the future, Iâ€™ve also familiarized myself with the nonprofit world and the various organizations out there. With all that Iâ€™ve learned, itâ€™s hard to pinpoint what the most important lesson has been. What I have discovered, though, is that Iâ€™m now more aware of how I take the amount of stability in my life for granted. Sure, I get stressed outÂ â€”Â who doesnâ€™t? But being exposed on a daily basis to these supportive organizations and projects has made me realize that any obstacle I struggle with pales in comparison to the daily hardships faced by many around the world.
I have food, clean water, protection against most major illnesses and access to a great education. Iâ€™m incredibly lucky that I consider midterms and finals the main source of my stress and anxiety. Other people are not so fortunate. As a student, I donâ€™t have thousands of dollars to give away, so I make the effort to donate my time and energy to causes Iâ€™m passionate about. After all, research has shown that volunteering leads to numerous benefits. People who volunteer are happier and tend to have lower mortality rates. Plus, with the huge feeling of satisfaction I always get after Iâ€™ve helped someone out, I donâ€™t see why people donâ€™t volunteer more!
The importance of education
I wish I could say that Iâ€™ve always been selfless, but thatâ€™d be a lie. I was motivated to start volunteering when I read a Washington Post quote, a shocking, sad quote that is still in the back of my mind: â€œIn California, the percentage of children who never make it past the fourth-grade reading level is used to help gauge the number of future prison beds to fund.â€ This statement illustrates the gruesome correlation between illiteracy and crime, and it inspired me to volunteer with a tutoring program called Team Read in Seattle. I was only one person, and I knew I couldnâ€™t save every kid out there, but if I helped one child beat the odds, then that would be one less prison bed filled. Iâ€™ve always loved working with kids, but that quote really spurred me into action. It was my motivation, and itâ€™s still my motivation today as I continue to tutor kids.
Despite all my efforts and the numerous programs across the nation, children in our own backyards are still having difficulty keeping up. If students are struggling in the United States, imagine how hard it must be for children living in a developing country or in a small rural village. Here, weâ€™re fighting illiteracy, but elsewhere, children are fighting much larger battles, especially since many of them donâ€™t even have access to an education. Due to circumstances beyond their control, some children will stop going to school, and some will never even begin. Sometimes itâ€™s because of family obligations, sometimes itâ€™s because they have more important things to worry about, but sometimes itâ€™s simply because they donâ€™t have the resources.
I probably would not be writing this blog right now if I hadnâ€™t had some sort of schooling. Education is extremely important in my family, and its value has been passed down to me. In the future, it will be passed down to my children, their children, and so on. Iâ€™ve always felt that education is sort of like a circle, a loop that feeds on itself. Imagine rows and rows of dominoes. All it takes is that initial piece to fall over to start a chain reaction. All it takes is one child.
For most of us, itâ€™s not realistic to tutor children in other countries, which is why itâ€™s so great that Jolkona has a number of international education projects to help those children in need. For example, we can sponsor a child in Nepal or Uganda. We can also support projects that help the children in the US, in addition to giving our time to be their mentors and role models â€” and by doing so, help another disadvantaged child beat the odds.
Marian Yu was Jolkonaâ€™s Office Manager intern during the summer of 2011 and will be a sophomore at Rice University in the fall. She plans to major in economics and psychology. Although she doesnâ€™t know what she wants to do yet, she has always believed in giving back to the community, and she loves working with children.