The experiences I have had in my life have taught me important virtues that have not only given me more strength and vigor to pursue my dreams but also to cherish and respect the family unit and those who live around us irrespective of their socio-economic status. On a personal and professional note I’m a passionate individual with strong organizational skills and a positive attitude towards academic research, project management and community based programs and take great pleasure in volunteer programs with the aim of improving situations as they are. Involving and interacting with pertinent issues that affect the well being of communities and ones that pose great challenges to the existence of human beings have enabled me to take a more positive and pragmatic approach to life. I have in turn become a more flexible and determined personality who views challenges and problems as opportunities to make a difference (Yammarino, 2002).
Firstly the occurrence that took place in the year 2008 on the 12th of May practically changed my life and more so my personal opinion about interpersonal relationships and the fact that there is more to life than just living. In this particular year in question, a huge disaster happened which shocked the whole world. That is the 5.12-Wenchuan earthquake in China where millions of houses crashed down, and millions of people lost their dear lives. While I look into the news every day, it constantly pained me to learn that more and more people were found dead while at the same time developed a sense of hope with news about people who got found and rescued.
In that year I had already planned to go back to China and visit relatives and friends. Instead I abandoned the plans to meet with friends and relatives and joined a self-organized volunteer team with a couple of my friends and went ahead to the disaster area of Sichuan Province. Upon arriving at city of Chengdu, we were sent to Beichuan, one of the disaster areas. Our team’s volunteer work was mainly based at the victims’ settlement areas. Our tasks were to handle and distribute the aid materials, and organize all kinds of activities for the victims. During the two weeks there, the primitive living conditions, the volunteer tasks and the fear of experiencing aftershocks were not the most difficult part, the hardest most challenging thing was how to encourage the disaster victims to walk out of their desperation and sadness, and look forward to their new lives. However my interaction with the victims and the strong faith they had in life deeply touched me and taught me to cherish life, and further take life challenges head on.
My responsibility as a volunteer in the aftermath of the disaster made me experience things that I had never or would never experience in my life. I met people from all over the world, who were united for one reason, and that is to help people who lost their homelands and their loved ones. No matter how bad the environment was, or how tired we were everyday; as long as the victims were properly taken care of and felt the love and warmth of a family, we considered our task a success.
I eventually left Beichuan after two weeks of volunteer work which was an experience of a life time and one that I will forever remember even though I didn’t spend really long time there. It elevated my life to a whole new level. For the first time, I really thought about life. I’ve come to the understanding that we should all cherish our lives, and live it meaningfully. Compared to what the disaster victims experienced, there are absolutely no reasons for me to give up on anything, there are also no reasons for us to not treat our family and friends with respect and love. With that in mind, I have to date worked hard to overcome the obstacles and challenges in life with a positive and optimistic mind, treasuring the times that I spend with my family and friends and become more determined and resilient in everything I do.
Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (2002). Personal statement: The road ahead. San Diego, CA: Emerald