Why Help Other People?

It is not a strange question but it is actually a lot of people wonder. Why would you spend time and money to help strangers while you yourself have your own problems to worry about? Even if you are a billionaire and have too much to live any kind of lifestyle you want, why wouldn’t you just keep your money, time and effort to have a vacation somewhere, quit your job and save the rest of the money for your children? The question does not just come from the helpers but also comes from people who get help. Last weekend, a Circle leader came to have breakfast with us. While sharing her stories, she admitted that at first, she did not understand why strangers wanted to help her, why they would care about whether her children got enough nutritious food or why they would want to hear her story without a judgement.

Back when I was in 10th grade, the same thing was on my mind. Looking at the brochures about volunteer projects and charity, I just did not get why I (or anybody) would sign up. Later as the school year started, while I was busy either being the member of XYZ club or having fun with friends, I even found it more confusing why some of my friends spend time every week at an orphanage to teach and play with children. As summer came, it felt so good to spend day and night in bed, watching TV and having no responsibility at all. But after a while, I found myself bored and under-achieved doing the same meaningless things over and over again. I ran out of stuff to do. Nothing is on my mind. I got no reason to wake up. Fortunately, right in those days, my best friend, who at the time was the organizer of a charity program, asked me to be one of the volunteers so that we both could see each other and have fun so I went. To my surprise, I found it to be a lot of fun, not just that I could see my friends but also that I could meet new people. All the people I met would always smile, have positive energy and grateful. It is amazing how living around such a ‘healthy human environment’ helped me to gain positive enthusiasm and delightful mood along the way. Towards the end of that summer, I promised myself that each summer I would do something similar, something that has meaning, something that has an impact. If someone asked me why, I honestly had no good reason to give them. I just liked it. The smiles. The ‘thank you’. The conversation between people that I just met. The warm handshake of a senior. The kiss of a child on my cheek. The nights I would lie on my bed smiling thinking about the day I had spent.

There it began. The next summer, through a talent competition at my high school, I was the co-organizer of a volunteer project at an orphanage with disabled children. Summer 2012, I was lucky to get the promotion to be the organizer of ‘A Meal A Smile’, which worked with a local hospital to provide patients with free meals. A few days at first, the patients were very suspicious. They wondered why some random teenagers would come to help them out. Some volunteers were asked “What are you doing this for?”. Some suspicious people even said “I’m saying this just in case. We don’t have any money”. After I explained the project to them, they were so happy to take the meals but at the same time, I sensed that they still wondered why these meals were there for them, and why these children would go through that many problems to help some random people. I did not know the reasons why my volunteers were there either. For my part, I just knew that I liked it and made a promise 2 years ago, so I was there.

Monday June 9th, I started Heston internship. I am frightened and surprised to find that it has been one month now. One month can sound long if I said “What I just went through. I have that much more to go”. But it sounds so short if I said “I have one month left”. I look back at the past month: lots of up and down. I remember the rainy days, the crisis, the problems, the conflicts, etc. So much so far. I consider last month a time to adjust myself to the kitchen and stay on schedule. Beginning next month, I will start my own project with the summer camp with Day Care Service at Gettysburg College. It was really a long way to come. I met the people that I have never met before, heard the stories that I have never heard before and done the things that I have never done before. It is scary to think about this one month left with my co-workers, my partners, my work and my goals for this summer. I feel like I want to run. I want to get my project going. I want to propose the ideas that are on my mind. I want to make the difference that I expected to make. Thinking that way, I feel a little ironic why I was freaking out about having to rest my head in one month. I am supposed to be happy and I am little happy actually. But at the same time, I started to feel the rush to achieve my goals and to complete my plans. I’ve got one month to do it and I will do it.

If someone ask me why I am freaking out about basically finally being able to stop working, especially when I chose not to go home like other international students to have summer vacation with families and friends, I have no good reason. Day in day out here in Gettysburg, sometimes I still hear that question from some random people – why would you want to be here to help other people? I don’t know. I would never be able to come up with a good reason, but my best reason would be: one human being do not need a good reason to help other human being.

Phoebe Do ’17
Gettysburg

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