[Student Essay] Driven to Serve
Hyeji Kim (Grade 10), Branksome Hall Asia
“Unfortunately, our school’s Grade 9 students this year won’t be able to attend the exchange program. Yet you know we can’t blame anybody - let’s try to think of good sides.” Grade 9’s privilege, the Canadian Exchange Program, was my last hope when the virus first started to spread and canceled all the events that I was looking forward to. When the only thread of hope that I was intermittently hanging onto was cut in vain, I was furious. I was furious that I lost the opportunities to meet new friends, be included in new communities, and experience diversity and new cultures.
As an extreme extrovert, being stuck at home and doing online education were already enough for me. I needed friends, events, and more dynamics in my monotonous life. Then, I heard that our school’s Head Girl Gayeon was establishing an organization called REVIR - a Youth Justice Alliance to gather different perspectives and information regarding the pandemic. I signed up as the country representative of South Korea as soon as I saw the sign-up sheet. My fury toward the pandemic was about to explode, and I wanted to reach out to people. I also wanted to gather qualitative information to inform and serve the world with a better understanding of the virus.
My life started to become more colorful as I invested my time into REVIR. In return, I was invited to join the team as a Head of Communication and Outreach. Starting my first journey in the service organization as a team leader was quite a burden. Not much later, I was soon fascinated by all the people in the organization. People who were around the same age as I were already mature, service-oriented, and optimistic about their lives. They were already utilizing their passion to change the world. Inspired by my friends, I got an opportunity to reflect back on the service programs that I had been participating in. I also started to search for the contributions that I could make to the world.
LUC, short for Leaders United for Change, to achieve equal access to education by mentoring young students was one of the service programs that I was already involved in. THEMIS Academy was another; it is our school’s after-school club established with the purpose of revealing historical events that have been neglected for decades. The fact that I was naturally engaging with these activities without even being conscious of its title ‘service’ made me notice that service isn’t really a project that you join to add one or two appealing lines for your resume. Service is a spark that drives students to use their abilities and passion. With confidence, I thought I could also initiate a service project while making full use of my talent and affection. In the simplest sense, I wanted to be a motivator, rather than a self-doer.
Accompanying my life-long vision to resolve unjust or pessimistic perspectives existing in society with my passion for songs and youth advocacy, I brainstormed and brainstormed until I finally solidified an idea for my project: creating and producing short videos that feature my speeches or songs to permeate my effervescence through widely-used social platforms such as Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube. Small yet touching, the daily encouragement for teenagers currently undergoing tough times will empty their stress buckets. I envision them rising for the world, ultimately creating a more activated and synergized society. Each and every one of us can whisper here and there, but together, we can create one solidified voice. My unparalleled endeavor to bridge people with speech and stage performance pleases me. But more than that, giving a little piece of hope for the youth is by far the most paramount aspect I look forward to.
Though my first step may seem small, the motivations and opportunities I’ve encountered after implicitly stepping into the field of service will be a staircase to the success of my initiative.
Thus I urge you — do not participate in service projects simply to get a few credits or social reputation, but with a clear vision and mission. There are too many events which are in need of your contribution. You can’t always sit back and rely on others to solve all the societal problems by themselves. Instead, be the forerunner of them. Be the initiator, be the author, be the steward of society.
The world is full of infinite possibilities and opportunities for you to launch your project solely with your passion-driven attempt. I just want to remind you that in the field of “service,” you are always more than capable of leaving a permanent impression in this intertwined society.