by Emily Hayashi, Grade 12
Looking back on my service trip to Kenya two years ago, I didn’t realize I was signing my initials beside an imaginary form agreeing to a “life-changing experience.” While in Kenya, I saw terrible suffering, and I felt compelled to help in any way I could. The physical pain of the people there left me with emotional pain. This trip to Kenya revealed to me that my desire to pursue medicine is also to help people in need. Someday I will go back to Kenya with Doctors Without Borders as a healer rather than as an onlooker.
Upon my return home, I took immediate action. Unable to do anything about the physical suffering, I decided to work on raising funds for education. With the support of my peers, I established a goal to raise enough money to send off to Kenya in order to ensure that a group of underprivileged children in Kenya would be able to receive an education. I also felt compelled to share my experiences in Africa with my peers, in hopes of educating others about the struggles I saw. A violinist for the last twelve years, I presented my orchestra group with a proposal to hold a fundraising event.
As I shared my passion for the underprivileged, my enthusiasm became contagious, and my peers began to help me build what proved to be an organizational challenge. In order for the fundraiser to be successful, many tasks had to be organized ahead of time. Countless hours of collecting donated items were a large contributor to the project. From collecting the items, I learned the importance of communication with the managers and owners of businesses. I also learned to accept the many refusals received while asking for donated items. Creating posters, and writing press releases were a crucial part to the concert. It enthralled me to see others in my group take on the projects they had talents in. I learned to lead by communication: what had been done and what still needed to be done. Throughout this experience, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and challenged myself in a difficult, but rewarding, experience.
We had about 20 young, talented musicians playing an ensemble of pieces at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. On top of that, we spent many hours collecting donated items from generous businesses and created raffle baskets and silent auction packages. It was tremendously successful and really gave me the opportunity to spread awareness within the community.
The fundraising event was valuable, not only for the less privileged, but also for the young musicians I worked with to make the fundraiser a success. For instance, a member in my orchestra, ten years old, became so motivated by my volunteer work in Kenya, she decided to use her talents as a musician to go busking to raise more funds for the cause. To me, it wasn’t the amount of money she raised for the organization, but the feeling I had as a role model, to show her, and others of that they can make a difference no matter what age. It was a phenomenal success that not only raised over four thousand dollars for Free The Children, but brought a community of people together to learn more about a cause I feel so passionate about.
Total Money Raised: $4,195.00
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams