VU welcomes and enjoys the services of several wonderful high school volunteers and has many alumni at colleges around the country. The younger students love them, and we know that while the high schoolers are helping us out, they are also learning and growing in many skills they will need as they move on to college and a career. Recently, VU sponsored a former high school volunteer who is now in pre-med in college to go on a educational trip to Panama. She recently wrote, with her thanks and appreciation, to tell us how it went and, in the process affirmed VU’s policy magnificently. Following is an excerpt from her letter:
“We stayed at a hostel in Western Panama. The site we were helping in was a three hour bus ride, so we left at 6:30am and came back around 6:30pm every day. At the site, we took turns working in Triage (taking height, weight, health history, blood pressure, temperature, etc), consult (sitting in with doctors as they address the patients’ problems), charla (teaching the children), and pharmacy (distributing medicines).
“Two things stood out from this trip. First, I realized how grateful we should be. Our hostel didn’t exactly have the best facilities – our toilets couldn’t be flushed with toilet paper, showers had to be short and cold, etc. A lot of the things we take for granted actually shouldn’t be: so many people around the world work so hard for the things that seem so basic to us.
“Second, I realized how important it is to serve. There are so many people that are in desperate need. One very elderly lady in her sixties walked four hours to our clinic, just to be seen by a doctor. Life isn’t just about ourselves, about getting ahead, making the most money, landing the most prestigious job; Life is also just as much about helping those who are less fortunate. And doing that is extremely rewarding.”
Not all of us are able to leave our own neighborhoods to serve, but don’t for a moment think that what we do in Herndon, VA, is not extremely important. Every time one of our students is more successful in school than they were or can come to homework assistance and have an “aha” moment with a math problem or reading challenge, we have made a difference. And every time a high school volunteer witnesses that difference and knows that he or she had an effect on a child’s life, it’s double the value.