The first time I volunteered in my community I was not expecting any special experience or appreciation to occur. With an event such as “Habitat for Humanity”, I saw myself to slip away into the background and to be collected into the pile of pieces of volunteers being swept together to create something as extraordinary as a house. And, in fact I was. Even as a small insignificant piece to the puzzle, I had the most amazing experience making a difference. It always begins with a small person in the background.
“Habitat for Humanity” is a successful nonprofit organization that builds houses for the needy and relies fully on volunteers. They have provided one million people in more than three thousand communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Habitat is not a giveaway program. The qualifications to receive a house though the Christian organization are simple, the family must invest in a down payment to the mortgage and also a lot of “sweat labor”. Sweat labor is important to the program because it allows for the family to work on another house and put time working on their own home.
I was amazed at the amount of energy and kindness fellow volunteers put into their mud and sweat work. It’s incredible and encouraging to see a smiling face behind a dirty brick of sod. Friends were made, as expected, and my time invested was nothing more than ordinary. That is, until I began to paint the corner of the house. The paint chosen was a pale blue with white trim. It is definitely a color scheme to stand out in the rough neighborhood as a glowing gem. I tried desperately not to allow drips down the side of the house, which is not the kind of mark I wanted to make. Sod was being laid; countertops and carpet had already been installed. Everyone worked like ants, the house came together so fluid it was as if everyone formed one wave and just swept over the house in one smooth stroke.
The third coat was complete and the house no longer looked like a construction zone, but a house. In fact, only a few volunteers were needed by this point, all the work was almost complete. I wasn’t fazed at all by the importance of this house until I saw the women painting next to me. She was crying. I asked her if she got hurt and needed a first aid, but she said she didn’t, that they weren’t tears of pain but tears of joy. I exclaimed how beautiful this house was and how lucky the family is to be receiving such a blessing. She said she knew, because she just finished the trim on her new home.
To see the women stand there with tears of appreciation and gratitude in her eyes made my heart melt. I could see in that tear droplet all the pain and suffering that woman has been though. She lost family members, friends, opportunities, and memories. But now, thanks to this program and people who could be investing their time into anything else in the world, but instead decide to work and sweat on a home for another, that lady has a shelter she can come home to, kick up her heels, and know everything is going to be alright.
I switched my major immediately, large quantities of money no longer was important to my well being. What good is wealth if it is all held by one person? I know that as an engineer, whatever I improve or create is to benefit the well being and safety of others. I hope to one day use my degree to improve the lifestyles of everyday citizens. Not in the way of making one’s life easier, but to improve the outlook on life itself.
I want to make the world fluid so that it would encourage others to work fluidly together, as one. I want to improve the subway system, so that it is more inviting. Once people feel comfortable in the subway they could feel more comfortable with each other. I want to encourage students to work together on the same cause. Once the students find that similarity, they would find more similarities in each other and look past the differences of culture, and status system. I believe my degree will allow me to make a difference.
I thank you “Engineers Without Boarders” at UCF for providing me with this opportunity. I dedicate this essay to you, and hopefully it encourages others to volunteer. I believe I not only deserve this scholarship, but need it in order to afford the high expenses in college these days. After this semester I will struggle to afford by books and boarding fees. I thank you for considering me for this scholarship and hopefully I have touched your heart.