Ever since I joined AmeriCorps last year, I have been probed with the question, “So, what exactly do you do?” To which I respond with a well rehearsed explanation of what Volunteer Maryland is and how I fit under the AmeriCorps umbrella. Their follow up questions would most likely be a variation of, “Why?” “What does that have to do with you becoming a lawyer?” “People still volunteer?” Or my favorite, “Do you really think you’re making a difference?” At those times, I wish I could inhale deeply and spew out all of my experience, statistics about service, why I do what I do, and how I am affecting communities in less than thirty seconds; like Jim Carrey did in Ace Ventura Pet Detective, but unfortunately, I am not that talented. All I can do is share how performing service has shaped me as an individual, personally and professionally.
In an early post, I discussed how my parents introduced me to serving my community. I had no idea those few days of service would later blossom into a career, but I’m glad they did. At a young age, I saw the needs of my community being met by the community members themselves. An influential celebrity or politician did not come in and spark community service; the community rallied together and took action to address unmet needs for each other. We saw something wrong and worked together to fix it.
Part of the reason I am committed to service is because there is still work to be done, and I can’t be a bystander. Sometimes I question whether I am making as much progress as I hope, then I remember a brilliant quote by Dalai Lama XIV, “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Very simple, but it’s brilliant.
The second half of why I am committed to service is because I enjoy it! For awhile, I flip flopped between wanting to be a professor and wanting to be lawyer. Completing my first service year with AmeriCorps (and now into my second year) solidified my decision to pursue a law degree. I love to serve people and I think that passion is better matched with me being a lawyer, so that I can utilize another tool to create positive change; being the mosquito I’m destined to be I guess. 🙂