From Harlem to Ecuador: DPEH Scholar’s Volunteer Work Leads to Student Ambassador of the Year Award

 

“I really love volunteer work,” Tiffany C. shared. “When I feel that I can help others, I feel better as a person.”

Ask any DP scholar what it means to change the world, and you’ll probably get responses close to “give back, make new friends in unlikely situations, and learn something new from every experience.” For Tiffany, a sophomore at Democracy Prep Endurance High (DPEH), a school service trip to Ecuador revealed that changing the world involves these three things and one more – an open mind.

In an essay on the trip, Tiffany wrote “Being a typical New Yorker, I was brought up to lock my doors and watch my back, even in broad daylight. Who had time to help others?” After her first day of volunteering at the local clinic, that mindset changed. “I was really observant about my surroundings. I saw all kinds of people in the clinic who had all of their belongings with them and even some who had their whole entire family with them. It made me contemplate my own life. What would I do if that happened to me; if I had no one to turn to for care?”

“This trip has totally changed my perspective on life,” she concluded. “There are kids my age who complain about repetitive things like boyfriends or girlfriends, but I have seen people with real problems that can’t be fixed with a phone call.”

Tiffany’s teachers encouraged her to share her thoughtful insights in a contest for FIBUSPAM, an Ecuadorian volunteer organization that helps economically struggling adults and children and has hosted DPEH students on their trips to Ecuador. When Tiffany’s teacher pulled her out of class to break the news that she won the contest and was FIBUSPAM’s Student Ambassador of the Year – there was nothing but excitement. Tiffany will present her winning essay at an FIBUSPAM charity event supporting humanitarian efforts in the city of Riobamba.

The first person Tiffany told about winning was her mother. “I told my mom because she’s was the first person ever who gave me a chance to volunteer.”

While winning the contest was a proud achievement for Tiffany, she sees her essay as opening more doors for others rather than herself because “they can see how volunteer work makes a big impact on your life.”

*Tiffany will be a guest speaker at FIBUSPAM’s annual fundraising event on April 1st. You can read Tiffany’s award winning essay below:

Why should we volunteer? Volunteering allows an individual to make a positive impact on his or her community, while empowering the individual to make their life a little bit better. From the clinic to the local school, I truly value my experience and treasure everything volunteering at Fibuspam has taught me. Volunteering lets me experience and learn things that I would not have learned; volunteering opens doors for me that I may not have been able to open before. Being a typical New Yorker, I was brought up to lock my doors and watch my back, even in broad daylight. Who had time to help others?

On the first day of volunteer work, I was really observant about my surroundings. I saw all kinds of people in the clinic who had all of their belongings with them and even some who had their whole entire family with them. It made me contemplate my own life. What would I do if that happened to me; if I had no one to turn to for care? It had happened to these people. It made me see that even if it did, there were people who would help me too. And it made my job worthwhile.

On my first day of volunteering in the clinic, I had no idea what to expect and was a little unsure but after a few hours volunteering I left the clinic feeling like a completely different person. My mother even told me that I had a certain glow about me when I got home and that I had changed somehow. It’s true. I felt better, almost renewed, like I was breathing fresh new air.

On the second day of volunteer work, we worked in a school. My job was to play with the little kids and just spend quality time with them. I can honestly say that I’ve never met such eager and friendly kids. Although I got sick that morning, they welcomed me almost instantly, and I felt right at home. They made me laugh, they made me smile, but most importantly, they made me want to come back.

This trip has totally changed my perspective on life. There are kids my age who complain about repetitive things like boyfriends or girlfriends, but I have seen people with real problems that can’t be fixed with a phone call.

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