Saturday, April 18, 2009

The beginning

Imagine standing in a health clinic in one of the most impoverished cities in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. A country hit by multiple natural disasters and struggles to rebuild and get aid to its people. This is Nicaragua. Progress seems hopeless. Then you look up above the clinic entrance and see a plaque that says without the help of Bucknell University students and faculty support this clinic would not exist. Imagine learning that that same city suffers from 80% unemployment and that even those who have jobs earn less than $2 a day. Then you meet with a group of women who started their own sewing cooperative and can afford to feed their families because they work in the first worker-owned free trade zone in the world. They couldn’t have done it without capital and co-op business training from a grass roots organization called Center for Development in Central America.

My connection to Nicaragua began 10 years ago when I was a senior at Bucknell University. I had the opportunity to spend my senior year Spring break providing much needed humanitarian relief in Nicaragua, which had been devastated by Hurricane Mitch. Having no idea what I was getting myself into I made a decision to forgo a fun, relaxing time on the beach with friends and sign up for working long hot days building temporary shelters and latrines in a third world country. What I wouldn't have predicted is that this initial trip planted the seeds for what would become a tremendously popular and successful service learning program at Bucknell. This past April I again had the option to travel to Nicaragua for the 10 year reunion delegation and witness firsthand the progress made from Bucknell's connection to Nicaragua.

My experience in Nicaragua had a profound impact on my life decisions. Service is about impact. And not just on those you help. Usually the impact tends to be greater on you. Since then I have dedicated my life to human service, put more value in helping the truly vulnerable, and gotten more satisfaction than I could have ever imagined.

A Call to Service
These times present us with challenge and opportunity. While as Americans we are reeling from crisis, forced to make tough decisions, let us take the time to focus on what matters. There is no better time than any to refocus priorities and to channel the great talent and generosity that makes us individuals and Americans. There is a call to service and I say take advantage of that opportunity. Give back in a way familiar or unfamiliar to you.

If you want escape from the daily trivial, the superficial, the nonsense, then transform your priorities. See something differently. You can’t put a price on how it feels to hear someone say thank you, to see that you helped make his/her life better.

So that’s my story. I chose to start this blog because someone might find it interesting. Someone might be inspired or better yet influence others by kindness and generosity. No matter if you are 15, 25, or 55 years old, here’s how to begin your journey. This blog will inform you how involving service whether it be from a keyboard, at a soup kitchen or a girls’ school in Africa, you have the power to do good and effect social change.