This I believe

Toshihiro - South Bend, Indiana
Entered on April 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe we can support each other by doing volunteer work. I realize we can’t live without each other’s support. I discovered this after I witnessed a cataclysmic event. I still remember the day vividly, in March of 2005, when I went to Sri Lanka as a volunteer to aid the people who had suffered from the tsunami due to the Indian Ocean earth quake in December of 2004. People had lost everything including their houses, food, clothes and family members. In fact, my father and I were able to bring many clothes to Sri Lanka from our small town in Japan. I thought I might be able to console some of their grief with what we were bringing them. As a matter of fact, when I gave the clothes to the people face-to-face and when I exchanged handshakes, they were smiling at me and said thank you. At that moment, I was glad to be there, because I was able to make them smile for a brief moment. Basically, volunteers provide basic amenities, however, being able to communicate with people is also essential because I believe people can forget their hardships during a conversation. For instance, I played soccer with children at an elementary school. While playing soccer, we were excited and after we got a goal, we felt like a real team united in joy over our small event. Frankly speaking, I believe that volunteerism is nothing but an aspect of hypocrisy because I live in a totally different environment that is a wealthy country. This huge gap of opposites can create vanity in people’s minds from developed countries. Besides, people tend to forget the importance of a high standard environment. Therefore, I never understand others’ grief unless I’m faced with the same situation. Moreover, when I was young I thought that volunteering has no benefit and was a waste of my time. As I grew up, I learned to put things in perspective. Japan is an isolated island. Hence, I believe volunteers can be a bridge to connect to other countries, which can be used as a tool of communication. Since I have seen people’s smiles through my volunteer work, I think that people feel good when they have help from others. I appreciate that a volunteer can work as a tiny peaceful moment. It also can be a seed to make a relationship, like friends. For instance, the more you know about your friends, the more you will be closer to your friends. In fact, volunteering gave me an opportunity to meet many people and I am still keeping in touch with some of them which has brought about great benefits. I have realized how important basic amenities such as food, clothes and technology are. Whenever I am faced with difficulties, I usually remember the days I went to Sri Lanka. Then I compare it to my situation and Sri Lanka’s; needless to say, I understand which situation is more comfortable. My ambition is very simple but endless, which is enjoying my life whenever, wherever.