Giving is Receiving-Personal Growth in Volunteer Work
Last summer, I volunteered to work as an English teacher in a primary school for children of migrant workers. To be accurate, I didn’t volunteer. I was dragged in. When my friends first hit upon the idea of this project, I was all against it: “What? To spend my vacation standing in the heat, yelling at a bunch of nine-year-olds who couldn’t even speak proper Putonghua? After all, there’s no pay for my toil. No, I’m not going.” But my friends twisted my arms to have me join them.
Unexpectedly, the first lesson I taught turned out a lesson for me. The moment I stepped into the shabby classroom, I was touched by the loud, respectful voices in unison: “Good morning, teacher!” Instead of fooling around, the children were thirsty for knowledge and efficient in absorbing everything I was able to give them. I started to blame myself because I hadn’t even prepared for the class. During the break, I leaned over the squeaky desk, chatting with a sweaty boy in the front row: “Without air-conditioning, it’s pretty hot here. Are you tired?”
“Not at all,” said he, shaking his head. “It’s fine here. My Dad builds asphalt roads. That is really tiring and hot.”
As summer advanced, my enthusiasm as a teacher grew. I prepared my teaching carefully and even used some methods my teachers used. I organized many group activities to give the kids fun. Strangely enough, the heat was also becoming less and less unbearable.
Soon, my one-month volunteer work came to an end. When I was leaving my last class, I turned back and saw smiling faces and waving hands. Never before had I ever had such a feeling of sadness, which was nevertheless mixed with a sense of enrichment, fulfillment and happiness. I was paid for my work, amply paid, not in terms of money, but something more valuable.
My English was improved. I was able to teach it, although not very professional.
I learned about the grassroots-level society. Inside myself a heart is growing, a heart that not only beats for myself, but cares for others as well. The volunteer work gave me a precious little chance to say thanks to people like the little boy’s father, who construct highways and undergrounds, build up modern skyscrapers, and make our cities more and more beautiful. To help the children with their English was all I could do at present to show my gratitude to these unsung heroes. The world may not have been fair to them, so people like me are obliged to do whatever we can to help make their life better. Whatever I do for them, however, I know it cannot be compared with what they have done to improve the quality of life in our cities.
Ladies and gentlemen, now I realize that volunteering is not just a one-time personal experience. It should be a lifetime activity of everybody. Many of us are now offering our assistance to the needy and to each other. Our efforts have indeed made a difference. Whether we are helping children with their schooling, or caring for the elderly in nursing homes, or helping out with 2008 Beijing Olympics, we will not onlycontribute to the harmony of the world but also elevate ourselves. Emerson once said,“It’s one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” He was right.
I hear that my university is going to organize another voluntary teaching program this summer. This time I won’t be dragged in. I will volunteer.
Our Future: A Battle between Dreams and Reality
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen:
When I was in the primary school, I have a dream. I want to invent a device which could bring you from one place to another in no time at all. When I was in the secondary school, my dream was to study in my ideal university. And when eventually I got into the university, my dream was to graduate.
How pathetic! When we grow up, we dream less and become more realistic. Why? Why do we have to change our dreams, so, so in order to let it be "fulfilled"? Why do we have to surrender to the so-called "reality"? What IS the reality actually?
Ladies and gentlemen, the reality is not real. It is a barrier keeping us from all the possible fantasies. Flying, for example, had been a dream to mankind for thousands of years. A hundred years ago, "man could not fly" was still regarded as the "reality". Now if that was really the reality, what did the Wright brothers do? How did some of you get to Macau? Only when we believe that the reality is not real can we soar with our dreams.
People say that our future is a battle between the reality and our dreams. And if, unfortunately, Mr. Reality wins this war, then I see no future of mankind at all. AIDS will never be curable as this IS the reality; People living in the undeveloped countries will suffer from starvation forever as this IS the reality; 4)Disputes among different countries would never be settled as this misunderstandings and intolerance IS the reality.
Ladies and gen