Home Country: United States
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
Starting at age 5, I was a Girl Scout and continued for 12 years. I gained leadership and teamwork skills through community building projects and outdoor projects such as tree planting. My troop planned an annual camping trip where we experienced various hands on activities growing awareness and adapting to our surroundings. During my last year, I achieved my Bronze Award through informing younger Girl Scouts about the importance of healthy eating and exercising.
For the past 5 years at San Jose State University (SJSU), i’ve been a member of Pride of The Pacific Islands, a polynesian dance club, to spread the “island spirit” throughout the community. I was the treasure for 2 consecutive years, collecting dues, organizing practice, and planning the annual lu’au for 400 people.
Three and a half years ago, I joined Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. I involved myself as President of my pledge class and served as Public Relations Officer for the chapter once I became a brother. This gave me the opportunity to expand my volunteer network and discover new organizations to help. As an active brother, I have volunteered over 150 hours to the country, San Jose community, SJSU campus, and the fraternity’s chapter.
Having enjoyed my contribution as a brother, I helped start a new organization called Sigma Rho Lambda in the fight against domestic violence and bullying since there was not a club for this on campus. We have raised awareness around our campus and raised donations for local organizations such as women’s shelters. In this club, I served as treasurer and philanthropy chair.
For the past year, I have volunteered over 75 hours as a member of Peer Health Education. This is a student group who educates peers about body image, sexual wellness, alcohol and other drugs, rest and relaxation, and violence prevention through presentations and programs throughout the semester.
This past June, I volunteered for three weeks in Chiang Rai, Thailand through IVHQ and fell in love with the culture and discovered my new passion for volunteering outside my country. I learned the difference between working to live and living to work. It’s beautiful to be a part of a different way of living.
This semester at SJSU, I am volunteering with the campus dietitian to help complete the Demo Lab, which is an educational space for students to learn the basics of cooking a healthy and affordable meal. A little over two months ago, I joined the Student Hunger Committee in effort to help reduce food insecurity on campus so students can focus on their school work and not worry where their next meal will come from. We provide free breakfast and free food pantries around campus. With a partner, I developed a strategic plan helping students become aware and knowledgeable about food resources on and off campus. We also made a plan implementing a campaign for helping students apply for CalFresh (a government ran program aiding people with low income with groceries).
I believe I should be IVHQ volunteer of the year because over the past 2 years, I’ve crossed many boundaries of my own and made the effort to take all opportunities that were presented. My commitments and actions show where I stand; everyone deserves to live a happy life with the accessibility of essentials. Volunteering has always been important to me but lately i’ve seen it as a priority. My happiness stems from helping others, and my positive attitude stems from my passion.
What motivated you to get involved with volunteering?
Four years ago, I was in an accident that left me unable to walk and unsure of the future. Three weeks later I struggled to walk again with one step at a time. This life-changing incident gives me courage to continue my dreams, travel the world, and live consciously. I accepted the outcomes and setbacks because they have influenced my attitude, priorities, ambitions, and opportunities for the best. I have a deeper appreciation for the little things in life. This detour helped me understand the value of spiritual, mental, and physical health and further accelerated my passion for total well-being. I’ve experience what it is like to have my mobility taken away and what it is like to live without walking. I’ve been at my worst and I volunteer to show myself what I have overcome. People helped my in my time of need and now I am returning the help.
How much time do you dedicate to volunteering?
Besides school and work, I am involved in 6 other curricular activities that require on average between 15 to 20 hours a week.
What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer work?
The most rewarding part of my volunteer work is seeing the appreciation in others’ eyes knowing that I helped make their work less stressful or that their community is on it’s way to achieving greater things.
What is the greatest challenge of your volunteer work?
The greatest challenge of my volunteer experience is working with the Student Hunger Committee since it is a fairly a new non-profit organization. The committee is ran by faculty who have the best intentions which is wonderful and also encourages me to put my best work forward. Having to approve a budget for my campaign is challenging and long but worth it in the end. Marketing is not something I have practiced in the past so my campaign has been a learning process.
Why do you believe you will be effective volunteering within a community abroad?
My work ethic is positive, open minded, and flexible. I adjust well to change and adapt to new environments fairly quickly. I enjoy taking on challenges that help me grow as an individual and help strengthen the group I am working with. I believe communication and inclusiveness are the most important when completing a task because a cohesive group with everyone working can get the job done. I also truly believe that everyone deserves an equal, healthy, and happy life.
What are you hoping to gain from an international volunteer experience?
From an international volunteer experience, I am hoping to improve my culture awareness by immersing myself in their traditions and daily living. I want to gain a deeper appreciation for my surroundings and value the natural resources that can be used. The best way to know understand how I live in America is to understand how other people live around the world. Lastly, I was to solidify my final thoughts from Thailand that family, friends, simplicity, and laughter is the key to happiness.