Giving Back

John - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that everyone should try to give something back to this world. It does not have to be a huge financial donation or a life dedicated to service. It can be as simple as holding a door for someone or talking to someone who seems lonely. Such little acts of kindness can have enormous impact. When I think about giving back, the old phrase “do onto to others as you would want them to do on to you” comes to mind. I first learned this lesson when I was in pre-school. One day my mom picked me up from pre-school and my teacher informed my mom that I had bitten another student. Rather than punishing me, my mom grabbed my hand and bit me. She said to me “how do you like it”? Well, I didn’t like it either. With this lesson in mind, if you were in a less fortunate situation, wouldn’t you want someone to help you?

I first encountered my opportunity to give back when I joined the Operation Smile Club at my school. For those of you who do not know, Operation Smile is a nonprofit organization that goes on medical missions to over fifty developing countries. During a medical mission, volunteers perform reconstructive surgery for facial deformities among young children. These facial deformities include cleft lips and cleft palates. After first witnessing and then experiencing the scope of Operation Smile’s work, I truly understand the impact of volunteer work. Just one surgery gives a child the ability to eat and drink properly; to communicate and enunciate his or her words correctly; and to smile, to laugh, and to live.

Volunteering at Operation Smile was not brain surgery. I never did go on a medical mission and perform surgery on a child’s cleft lip. However, I was able to help give another child a better life. I volunteered at events such as fundraisers. One surgery costs as little as two hundred fifty dollars and only takes forty-five minutes, but its effects last a lifetime. I did small every day tasks that anyone could have done.

My volunteer work with Operation Smile also generated personal rewards. I was able to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I now know that I want to be a doctor because it also feels good to help someone else. I knew that I had done something substantial, something worthwhile and something for someone besides my self.

I challenge you to try to give something back to this world. It does not have to be anything too substantial. It can be a simple as picking up a piece of trash or if you so desire, you can go a little deeper. But I guarantee that if you take the time to help someone else, you will feel much better about yourself. If everyone in the world took the time to give back, the world would be a much better place, this I believe.