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From a YES student: Discovering the value of community service

February 4, 2010

Paul Johnson is a high school student from Taraba State, Nigeria. Paul has been living and attending school in Akron this year through the U.S. State Department’s Youth Exchange and Study Program. Here, he shares what he’s learned about the importance of community service, a requirement of the program.

Paul makes a presentation to his community

Why do we have to do community service? That was the question I asked myself when I was told about the YES program requirement of doing two hours of community service every month. Now, I know why we do it, and I’d love to share that with you. Check this out:

Research shows that more than 60% of successful people today have spent most of their teenage years volunteering in one way or the other. Another study shows that focusing on others or helping others provides moods such as optimism and emotions, which strengthens the immune system. If you don’t believe this, take my host dad as an example — he is around 60 years old, but volunteers in the community as much as anyone else.

We all know the importance of peace in our world today, and volunteering brings us closer to different people from different aspects of life. You find yourself working among people of different backgrounds towards the same goal. More than that, understanding the needs of the community helps promote empathy and efficacy. When put together, such little things lay the foundation for peace.

Sometimes I wonder if community service benefits the community more or if it benefits the individual (or group) doing the volunteering more. In the course of community service, you find hidden talents in you that will change your view of your self-worth. You also discover that there are local resources available to solve the needs of the community.

One of the main reasons we need community service is because it saves resources. With the current economic situation, a lot of schools and organizations are looking to cut their budgets. Research shows that the current value of a volunteer’s time is $15.39 per hour.

When you volunteer in care centers, you support families; when you volunteer to tutor, you are improving schools; when you volunteer to mentor, you are supporting youth; when you volunteer at the park, or to clean up an area, you are helping to beautify the community.

The above reasons clearly spell out the need for community service. So I challenge everyone to find time and a way to volunteer in their community.

And to YES 7 students: community service is probably the only way we can pay back what the USA and IRIS have done for us. And lets make sure we keep it up even when we go back home. Don’t let the snow stop you! I challenge you to do more than two hours monthly. You can make a difference. Every person counts.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimberly Hope Athay permalink
    February 4, 2010 11:03 PM

    What a great post by Paul! I’m proud of him and I agree – it is hard to discern whether community service does more for the volunteer or the community – but definitely both are better off by the work volunteers do!

  2. Christelle permalink
    February 4, 2010 11:18 PM

    Paul, I am so proud of you. I am glad you understand the values of community service. I am very hopeful that you will be able to instill those values in your community when you return home.

  3. Vicki Siefers permalink
    February 5, 2010 2:53 AM

    Very well organized and written. I have often thought that volunteers take away as much as they give. For those who say they don’t have time, they are missing a valuable life experience.

    • March 17, 2010 7:33 PM

      My husband and I recently had the opportunity to meet Paul, who is attending Akron-
      Westfield High School. We had a wonderful time getting to know him.
      When I read his comments on volunteering, I was so pleased to know that he realizes
      the real purpose of helping and giving to others: “We are blessed so that we may bless
      Hopefully, Paul’s volunteerism will go with him when he returns home to Nigeria.
      God’s Blessings,
      Gail Streyffeler

  4. March 17, 2010 7:34 PM

    See the above letter.

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