Many people have the thought that people suffering (financially, emotionally, or physically) are not present in their own community. People falsely assume that if they are doing well then everyone else must be as well. This sense of “otherness” that is given to issues such as poverty, violence, and lack of resources causes people to ignore the problems in their immediate communities.
There are people all around you that could use a helping hand.
Recently, I traveled to a neighborhood in the city of Chicago as a volunteer with Vincentian Service Day. Vincentian Service Day is a day dedicated to serving the city of Chicago while carrying out the mission of my school’s namesake, St. Vincent DePaul. Thousands of students gather on a Saturday morning and spread out to neighborhoods all over the city helping non-for-profits, gardening efforts, etc. This eye-opening experience helps students recognize their privilege as well as the ways in which they can use their privilege to help others.
I personally think that every college/university should have a school-wide volunteer day.
As a student, I oftentimes find myself absorbed in my own world — with school, work, and extracurriculars, stress easily accumulates. However, volunteering can get us out of our own worlds and into the world around us.
See also: I Stood On My Feet For 12 Straight Hours To Better My Community And I'd Do It Again In A Heartbeat
Students have difficult lives, yes, but it is humbling to be aware of how privileged you are from even just attending a higher education institution. Additionally, completing volunteer work is a way to get out of your campus and into the city surrounding you - become aware of those in this community and the conditions they might be facing. There are a lot of lessons to be learned that cannot be taught in a classroom. Besides the self-gratification and learning, volunteering within your school creates a sense of unity and bonding within students.
It’s such a powerful feeling knowing that you and thousands of other students are joining together to make a positive difference. I met people that I may have never met otherwise if I had not participated in this event. Universities across the nation have nothing to lose if they choose to adopt the concept of service days.