Mohd Syahmi Yem
Instructor: Beth Seilberger
Lending Hands; Much to Gain, Nothing to Lose
"He, who wished to secure the good of others, has already secured his own." (Confucius)
Confucius said it all, so beautifully, I cannot say it better. Imagine a typical college student; he woke up every morning, exercise, have his breakfast and go to school. He went home that evening and as usual, cleans up and get ready for dinner. After dinner, he might do his usual chores, either play games, studying, or go out with his friends. These are the mundane, typical days for a college student. So what the college and the family institution are teaching him is the ordinary, technical stuff. He will not grow up to be a special, charismatic and important individual for the community. Ask yourself, is this typical person are we trying to develop in the students? My main point is, every college student should be required to give three credit hours’ of worth of community service a year because of its various impeccable benefits.
First lesson of community service for students; be grateful of your life. I still remember a few weeks before the last Thanksgiving; I joined the Collegiate Village group to go to Elderwood Senior Care in Buffalo. We are planning to play Bingo with the elderly there. Once we arrived, I was amazed seeing there is so many elderly who were on the wheelchair. I followed the caretaker who then took me to a room, who then assigned me to take a particular elderly to the community room to play Bingo. It was not my first time doing community service in the US, but it is the first time I went to an elderly nursing home. Looking at all those elderly, who some were sick (they got tubes and wires all over, and they can still afford to smile), some looked very tired and always fall asleep during the game, and some were even crying when we were about to left. This short trip has a very big effect on my mind, on my heart and my soul. As a college student, it makes me think how fortunate I am to have a happy family. Thus, as for the other students who will have to do the community service for their credit hours, this will help to instill moral and good values in them. It teaches them to think beyond ‘me, myself and I’. Some says that the community service done without sincerity, for the sake of their credit hour is not effective enough, but the effect will get to the students, sooner or later.
Is that all? Of course not, as doing community service will bring the students out of their own world to see the reality of life. This will also bring out some sense of humanity for the students. They will learn more than typical academic stuff and see the true ugly face of life. As mentioned by Charles W. Grant, the Executive Director of Clayton County Community Services Authority, “College is a place that differs completely from a shelter home or a nursing home. Sometimes, for students to join our program will definitely change their perspectives on life, widen their thoughts, and enhances their self-empathy towards the unfortunate.” Besides the latest trip to the elderly home, I have also volunteered for a fund raising event for the Pakistani Flood Relief last month. I can’t be there (I mean at Pakistan), but still I feel terrible for what happened for them. These good works were enjoyed at its best when we are truly sincere when doing them.
The last reason to make this compulsory for every college student is that we have to prepare them in their best condition to be ready for the post-college life. Everybody knows that being an adult is not easy; you will have to deal with massive responsibility and also numerous stresses on your life. These are not the things that were taught in the classroom, these are skills that you have to develop on your own as you live your life. Once the students go out of the college, they will have to work independently. Doing community service will teach them the skills of survival, the lesson that will worth for lifetime. For example, a student is pampered while in high school, while in college, given monthly allowance and secured housing for the whole semester where their parents were the ones who take responsibility for their life. However, when they were out of college and started the working life of an adult, they will have to work independently without the help from their parents. As what I understand, in the United States, it is a disgrace for a college graduated individual to stay with their parents. By doing community service, students will learn to develop the skills needed for them to survive, even in the hardest situation, for example, making difficult decision in a short time.
The truth is that you won’t see the importance of community service before you do it yourself. The experience, I dare say, would change your perception on this matter. Community service should not be done just to announce the completion. It should be done without looking for a reward or praise. It should not be looked at as doing something for someone, but assisting them in making life better and fulfilling. Community service is very important for the students to develop themselves into a better person, as well as a preparation for the challenging future.