“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” - Audrey Hepburn
My service project this semester was “Bedtime Stories”. Every Thursday night, Circle K International (CKI) members from TCC and FSU go out to the Hope Big Bend community and read “bedtime stories” to the children living there. I went to this project for the first time back in September and it gave me a slap back into reality. It was the first meaningful service project I had been to since high school and I almost forgot how much I missed being a part of them. There is such a difference in getting service hours by running a book drive or delivering books to a homeless shelter, and actively reading to children who don’t have the privilege or educational intellect to do so themselves. There is a kind of “giving back” that simply requires your time with other people. I thought about how much time I’ve spent planning larger service projects, and eventually I realized that it is always the projects that you feel take the least out of you that leave behind the largest impact, on both you and those you’re servicing.
At Bedtime Stories, there are kids who do their homework with colored pencil, and they regularly have a hard time staying focused during the stories. It made me realize how much of a privileged and blessed life I have lived. We have such a structured education that we often complain about, but we really should not. We always want the best and cutest supplies but there are people who do not have any at all. It sounds so cliché and like something your parents would tell you, but I have realized how naïve and narrow minded we can get. Often times, it takes physically seeing someone not fortunate enough to probably ever live a life like yours to understand how real it really is. The first time I went the Hope Big Bend, I walked out thankful for an education, something I never thought I would say. That same day, there was a little boy who attached to me the whole night and remembers me every time I go. His favorite book is Thomas and Friends and he knows the name of ever train in that book like the back of his hand. Try reading him another book and two pages in he will recommend you read him Thomas and Friends. These children spend their childhood at this place, seeing the same people, and us coming to read to them seems like such a change of pace. It is something both the CKI members and the children look forward to.
I have known for a while now, just by interest, that I want to be a physician. I frequently wonder what specialty I want to go into but I can guarantee that I will not know until I have to make a final decision in seven years. I realized after projects like this, live news footage in Aleppo (hours from many of my family members) and other third world countries, that I want to commit my life career to not just saving lives, but shedding light over those who think they have nothing more ahead of them. I am very passionate about surgery and being able to work with my hands, but I also can’t imagine the life style of living in a hospital; I want to connect with my patients and see a long term impact on their lives. That’s where I think two of my dreams will never collide. Only time will tell.
I recently attended a pre-med conference that highlighted the process of getting to med-school. So while it all seems like a giant checklist, behind it is simple passion. These checklist items are a lifestyle, and you will start doing what you truly enjoy if fit. I overlooked the SAT/ACT in high school and directed a lot of my focus towards extracurricular activities and service, and in turn had to work my way into FSU for spring semester. While there was regret on not focusing more on testing instead of clubs, I found out so much about myself - what I was good at, what I want to provide to the community, and how I will do so as a physician. Through all the service I have done, I realized I want to do more than service others from a school club, and provide a service that not everyone is able to do.
This quote by Hepburn really spoke to me because it reminded me of core value that I truly cherished in high school - character building. This value in key club, the high school level of Circle K, I felt always tied into the other 3 – leadership, caring, and inclusiveness. When you realize how much you impact and provide for others, you subconsciously are doing something for yourself. If there’s anything that equates to service, it’s the self-growth that one gets out of it. I firmly believe that you help yourself while helping others, and overtime when you discover that, you will know how to put yourself first while still dedicating yourself to others.