(Student Essay Fall 2015)
“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.”
― Lao Tzu
My service project was visiting Veteran’s Village to “adopt” a veteran whom I gave clothes to, while also spending my time there serving food, talking with veterans and encouraging them to make crafts such as candle holders and painted pumpkins.
We’ve played bingo, decorated cupcakes and talked about war experiences. I picked going to Veteran’s Village and adopting a veteran as my service project because after just one time of visiting there and forming a bond with one veteran in particular, Ron, it sparked something in me that wanted to keep going back. I enjoyed meeting with people who have gone through unique experiences that only select people have gone through and it excited me that I would be spending time with courageous, humble people that had wisdom and experience to offer me, personally. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been prompted by a professor or school in general to do something meaningful in my community. Instead of making something, researching a well-known event in history or doing an uninteresting project, I was prompted to do something significant and beneficial. Not only am I doing something for the community and helping others, I’m helping myself as well. Going to Veteran’s Village and just having a simple conversation with a veteran, spending time with them betters me in ways such as: I’m branching out in a community that I’m not from, I’m meeting people in an environment that’s not familiar and I’m using my resources and giving them to someone else which benefits me because I’m exposing myself to my selfless side.
This service project impacted my educational journey by making me want to do better in school. If I’m being honest, having a teacher that goes outside of the box to motivate students to focus not only on their schoolwork but their contribution to the community builds respect and gratitude. It has also affected me in the way that it makes me want to continue to do my best in school so that I can always try to have a backup plan in life. It has made me more thankful for the opportunities and privilege I’ve had and will have in school.
Having somewhat of a bond with Ron has made me grateful that I started visiting Veteran’s Village and have continued to go back when I can. It makes me happy knowing that talking to me or showing me something makes him happy. I know he appreciates having something to show me and having someone to share his military knowledge with. One man, I’m not sure of his name, told us a few weeks back that he was so grateful that every week, we show up and bring food and sit and talk and make things with them. He said how great of cooks we were and how he simply appreciates our time. That moved me because here I am, thinking how grateful I am for these people that served for our country and how much I respect their humbleness and kindness and he’s telling us how thankful for us he is. That made me realize how happy these people are that we show up every week and how thankful for us they are. That moment has impacted me the most so far. I’m waiting for another moment to top that.
Update since I’ve last worked on this paper, decorating ornaments and picture frames last week was a fun way to get myself and other students and the veterans into the Christmas spirit. I decorated a “2015” ornament and gave it to Ron. He actually started tearing up and opening up to me about his past of being in the hospital for some time. He told me how amazing it was that we come here and bother to give them the crafts that we make and that he’s met few people along the way with such kindness. It’s like he seesme. It’s a weird feeling to empathize with someone who is thankful for an ornament. He’s thankful for much more than just the ornament. It’s what the offering of the ornament represents. But still, hes thankful for the bare minimum of kindness and that’s what’s amazing.
In conclusion, I’ll continue to go to Veteran’s Village all the Thursdays that I can and will continue to feel blessed by this experience. I’m extremely grateful that my college experience can be more than just studies and benefiting myself. It can be about bettering someone else’s life and give my educational journey more meaning and more to look back on than stressing myself out over a grade.