Small Acts, Big Difference

I had no idea what to expect when our class met to finally open the envelope we were given in secrecy. I had a few suspicions. Perhaps we would go on a scavenger hunt, or maybe all complete an activity together to help us bond as a class. I never expected to have $100 cash fall out of that envelope; nor did I expect for us to be given the task of deciding what to do with the generous sum.

After staring at the letter and cash with our jaws dropped for a few moments, we immediately jumped into action, each of us throwing out ideas about how we could use the money within the community. I was surprised to see how many organizations the eleven of us came up with that could use the funds. We debated for a few minutes before deciding on Second Home, an after school program for elementary and middle school children who come from low income homes. We then threw out ideas on how to use the money to serve them. Tyler had to stop us and remind us of a reading we had just discussed in class that spoke about how we should ask organizations how we can help instead of just assuming. Looking back now, I am amazed at how easy it was to get carried away in assuming that we know what is best for others. If we hadn’t have called, we never would have known that they needed the books and school supplies that we were able to purchase.

After buying the supplies and delivering them, we all stood outside of the building and just talked for a few minutes about how much fun we had completing the task we were “assigned.” It is crazy to me that eleven (kind of) strangers bonded over serving total strangers. I could not think of a better way to bring our class together; nor can I think of a more memorable experience. The smallest acts of kindness can make the biggest difference in the lives of those we may not expect, including ourselves.




Spread the Word

This week in class, we read over articles pertaining to the situation in Syria. Not many people are aware of what exactly is going on within the country, and more importantly, no one talks about how this all started. The problem in Syria is immense and was described in some readings as “inevitable”. This is a terribly sad thought, but once you know more about it, you will understand why it is being described as such.

The conflict in Syria began in 2011. To keep this post short, I will not go into too much detail as to how things began and progressed from there. However, many people don’t even know who is involved in this war. This diagram that was drawn for us in class helped me get a better grasp on the situation:

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The green and red lines represent positive and negative relationships, respectively. There are so many different groups involved in this situation. And all of them have their own different ideas how to deal with it. This is why this war has been going on for about seven years.

After we had a discussion in class, our professor asked: “So why do we never hear about Assad or any of the other groups involved?”. I had never even heard of Assad until this day of lecture. But this question got me thinking about how much we don’t know about what is actually happening or why it’s happening. We need to stop relying on media for our news, because they don’t always give the full story. If we want to advocate to others to help with worldwide events, we need to educate ourselves with facts. But don’t stop there. This is an essential step. Educating ourselves only helps us. When there are problems this immense going on, it is our ethical duty to spread the information to others. Many of us in the U.S. like to live in our own little bubble and are unaware of the magnitude of the tragedies that are happening around us. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down by sad news, but equipping ourselves with information that helps others understand these events is a step in the right direction. I encourage you to spend 10 minutes of your time reading a professional article on an event somewhere that’s not the U.S. and after you’re done reading, share what you learned with a friend.

-Kate Keeley