Coming from the Heart

Yesterday I probably had my worst volunteering experience yet.

I had to volunteer at my local library because they were working on a community project. Everyone was suppose to contribute to this cause. People came at different times to contribute to the project.

I was in charge of helping to sign people in, but it was a very slow day. In addition, the person who was suppose to be volunteering with me ended up not showing up. I kind of wish I had done that too because I stayed there for two hours doing close to nothing. The coordinator seemed really nice, so he showed me what exactly I would probably do (turns out he did it for most of the time, and I wasn’t even mad about it, because I went to sleep so late the night before and I wasn’t in the mood of talking to people).

I talked to him a little bit more and he told me how he was an English major and moved here about 2 years ago from England. Yes, England. I was super surprised because he didn’t even have the accent. He told me how England’s education system was very different. In England, you study and test in 12 subjects, and you choose 4 subjects out of the 12 to continue studying in depth. When he moved to America, it was a hard transition because there were some classes that he hadn’t taken in years due to this system.

As we were talking, I did notice that he was a bit attractive. Unfortunately, I had a huge hunch that he may not have been straight. And it turns out that I was right.

We ended up talking during the time that no one was there (which was a large amount of time), and he talked about how he wrote queer fantasy, which I thought was pretty interesting since there weren’t many of those kinds of books.

Then the other coordinator came and started talking to me. He asked me what I was studying and which school I went to. It’s funny because his first guess was that I attended the community college nearby (he kind of pointed his body in the direction of the community college and asked, “Soo do you go to…?”) With pride I said my school’s name, and his eyebrows raised a little bit, and he re-established his posture. He also seemed more enthusiastic to maintain a conversation with me.

I told him that I’m a bio major pre-med, and he was again surprised to notice that  I had maintained the pre-med track into my sophomore year. He talked about how he used to be on the pre-med track back in the day, but organic chemistry ruined his life.So he decided to do English instead and become a librarian.

At first I was confused as to how you go from being a doctor to being a librarian, but I didn’t show it in my face (atleast I tried not to), and I realized that it looked like something he loved, so I was happy that he found the right track for him.

So some more people came, and there was one lady who came with her son. He said that I could do it this time, so I took the clipboard and approached the mother of the child. It was at that moment that I realized I didn’t really know what to say, even though I did?

I was suppose to ask for her name, but I stalled to long and the coordinator noticed it. He instead asked her for it, and  I checked her name off of the clipboard. I kind of felt bad because that was the only job I had, and I felt like I didn’t do it.

So more dead time came, and it was near 1pm. I had a review session for my final exam starting at 1:30pm. I decided that I would leave early because I needed the review session..

The coordinator offered me a sandwich, and I took it and told him that I couldn’t stay for long. He said that it was totally fine. So I sat for about a couple minutes longer, and I told them that the bus was coming so I was going to leave. I needed them to sign off hours for me so after a goodbye I told him that I needed him to sign off the sheet for hours. The girl sitting next to him turned away and started rapidly blinking. He wordlessly took the paper from and me and scribbled his name and info on there. I don’t think they were pleased at all.

That’s the hardest thing for me: getting papers signed. I  feel like people would automatically think that you’re volunteering just to rack up hours, not because you actually and willingly want to help. That’s something that I really don’t like.


Getting Excited About Science

For the past few weeks since I have been back to school from spring break, I have been donating a large amount of my time on the weekends to community service. I realized that it’s something that I really like to do, and it’s something that I have constantly done since I was little (even throughout high school). I thought it would be a good idea to get back into it.

Earlier this semester, my friend had introduced me into this one group on campus that is focused on community service and leadership. Some of the requirements of the group is to obtain about 250 hours of source through work, community service, clubs, and organizations that I had been involved in. At first, I was pretty sure that I had just eliminated my chances of being in the group because I realized that I never documented any of those hours.

It took me a while to muster enough effort and motivation to actually start thinking back to the amount of times that I had actually did community service. It turns out that I had done alot of it. I remembered volunteering last semester, and it still counted for this semester. I was super happy about that. I had volunteered at the inauguration of the university’s new president. That was really fun because I was a volunteer that guided people who needed special needs. I felt special, like I actually played a role in the inauguration. I remember volunteering only for the benefit of saying that I actually did it. I mean who could honestly say that they helped out with their president’s inauguration?

For whatever reason, at the time I felt like this inauguration would be memorable. And it certainly was, definitely for reasons that I would have never imagined.

Anyways, a few weeks ago, I helped out with another event on campus that was about increasing the amount of involvement of females in STEM fields. I had helped out last year, but those hours wouldn’t count. It didn’t matter. It was something that was always a joy for me to help out with. I fully believed in the fact that more girls needed to be exposed to STEM fields. Many times, the guys are the ones given the building toys and the computers and the video games and the technology. On the other hand, the girls are given the little kitchen sets and the dollhouses and the sewing kits. That’s only going to help them become good stay-at-home moms. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if that girl wants to do something else? What if she would like to learn how to build and design things? What if she learned how to engage in combat? What if she knew how to build her own computer?

That’s the purpose of the organization that I worked with.

So college students are paired with 7th and 8th graders, and you become her “buddy” for the day. You take her around to different workshops and work with her aon different activities.

This year, I had a 7th grader who, I must say, really impressed me. She told me that she wanted to study Computer Science, just like how her dad did. She had already had programming experience from her dad who is a programmer for a very renown camera company. He has already shown both his daughter and son how to write code! Her dad went to MIT, and her mom was super nice.

We went to a workshop about bioluminescence. So they mixed a few chemicals together, and it glowed in the flask. I watched as they took a really long time measuring the chemicals and pouring them into flasks. They even took a super long time putting on gloves. It was the funniest thing to watch, because nowadays I could do all of that under a minute. It goes to show that all the abilities that we did learn were acquired…

After that, we went to this computer programming workshop about coding and making your own code to create your own animation. I was fascinated at first, and I now understood a little bit about how code worked, but it was sooo boring for me. I quickly fell asleep during it. I even had to excuse myself so I could walk around a little to stay awake. The girl I was with definitely had fun, especially since her mom, dad, and brother were right with her the entire time. They were having a jolly good time.

After that was another chemistry lab, which woke me up. It was all about polymers which was really cool. I learned about how you could easily break a CD once you put some esters (or was it ethers) on them. In the next one, we dissolved a styrofoam cup into a solution. The next once, we made some silly puddy. In the next one, we made this long polyester chain. Now that one was really cool because he showed me what exactly he did and how it worked. I came up to him after the experiment and asked for the mechanism. He asked how much organic chemistry I had taken, and I told him that I was finishing up my 2nd semester. It looked like his eyes had lit up, and he was like “Oh cool!”. so he showed me the mechanism which I was super amazed by because I had just taken a test on it. It was all about a substitution between an amide and a carboxylic acid. He even showed me how to make the bonds on a large scale, because apparently he was showing them the baby version way to make it. I was super intrigued by it.

So after that, it was time to go. I said goodbye to my buddy and her family after the closing ceremony (where she actually won something in the raffle! 😀 ), and I left.

This is honestly something that I plan to do every year that I am here. Maybe next year I’ll be on the planning committee. Though that will be a whole lot of work, I believe that I could do it.

I had