I live in Chicago, Illinois in the United States of America. I was raised and born in the suburbs of Chicago. They are predominantly white, middle class, low crime communities in Midwest America. I have never wanted for anything. Of course as a child I would want fancy things, but never anything essential. Don’t get me wrong, it was not all rainbows and puppy dogs the entire time. My mother worked her tail off to put me into a good private school and to help me feel that I never wanted for anything. She worked very hard. Nonetheless, I was in sports camps, played on basketball and volleyball teams, had theatre classes, and was (along with my family) a practicing Catholic. A very good life. So what is it that I could possibly offer to anyone else? Just because I was raised in such a positive world, does this mean that I am any better than anyone raised elsewhere?
I have always wanted to volunteer. I thought for a long time about the Peace Corps. But because I was exposed to tuberculosis in 1999, I would have been a liability to the organization. Then I began to think about Americorps. But then, I felt that I needed to do something more than go and build a house for a month and leave. I wanted to make a sustainable impact. Then I became selfish. My career took precedence. I hate to admit it. But it did. I wanted to be in theatre and I wanted to make a solid background for myself and the volunteering world was shoved aside. Every day, I have still wanted to make my difference in the world. It was just a question of what I could possibly do. I’ve been asking myself as of lately what it is that developing worlds have a disadvantage of that I never did.
- Governments. Try looking up the “Informal Sector” in Malawi. The countries government’s solution to end poverty is just to get rid of the people who are impoverished (aka starving them). My government (while not perfect by any means) has always supported my right to freedom, to a job, to a vote, and to loan money for a higher education.
- The school my mother decided to enter me into gave me lessons and knowledge at a very early age of technology so that I may grow with the industry as it advances.
- While it may not seem like today there are very many jobs, I have the ability to apply for whatever I want no matter my race, my gender, or my age.
- America has the top number of universities and colleges in the world. I have to opportunity to attend any and any trade school at that.
So what exactly what use am I? I may not be a trained teacher, but I love kids and I know my alphabet. I have a background in management that most people do not and I could teach and guide others how to manage a business or people. I happen to know how to use a computer (even if it is just the basics) and could show others how to use one to their best advantage. I know that this world needs to be environmentally friendly through what I read in the media and articles and books, so I can help teach the next generation to be
aware of keeping our world clean and growing. There are a million of things I could do by taking direction from those volunteers who need the help in teaching their own skills. Volunteering is a truly great thing. No matter where you are from. It is not that I am better and trying to make someone like me, but that I am trying to better their world by lending a hand to possibly give them a step up in the direction they want to go in. Everyone needs a little boost in life every once in a while. Whether that boost is a holiday bonus within the corporate world in the middle of New York, or teaching a child how to type on a keyboard in a small village in South America.
I have decided to become a part of a program, created by a lovely Irish woman named Sarah. It is to help people learn how to volunteer without being sucked in by major holiday corporations who take advantage of people who just want to help. The term “voluntourism” is making its way around lately and is growing. This is when a volunteer gives a large sum of money towards a corporation to go to a town in need and then also has the advantage to travel while there. While this all sounds well and good, almost none of the money is going towards the town and none towards the program in need. The volunteers are left without a prayer in the world of direction and thrown into a situation that seems just impossible. With Sarah Carroll’s program, volunteers are able to contact the volunteering organizations directly without a middle man of the corporate world. They can relate to the organization and find out exactly what they need and give back to community by staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants, and buying at local stores. This way they are giving back even more into the economy of the town. Sounds like a really valuable project doesn’t it? They are creating the connections and knowledge of how to do it independent and ethically through a series of videos. So to help them I am reaching out to news stations and friends to ask for donations of filming equipment. Definitely check out their campaign for The Ethical Volunteer and help to spread the word. It’s the least I can do.