noun: 1.h. An act of assistance or benefit.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
“St. Olaf College…stimulates students’ critical thinking and heightens their moral sensitivity; it encourages them to be seekers of truth, leading lives of unselfish
service to others; and it challenges them to be responsible and knowledgeable
citizens of the world.”
excerpted from the St. Olaf College Mission Statement
i’m not going to lie. my job has stressed me out over the past few months, and a lot of days i don’t really get a great sense of personal worth and fulfillment from helping people put together websites to sell trinkets and t-shirts.
once a week, for the last four weeks, i’ve helped an 80 year old woman figure out how to use her computer. i take my cup of coffee and spend an hour or so answering her questions. occasionally, i’ll change a setting or install a program for her, but for the most part i just sit next to her and answer her questions while she sits in front of her computer. it might not seem like much, but when i leave her apartment, i feel like i’ve accomplished something.
the same is true for the last website i launched. i really enjoyed working with the northfield youth choirs to help them use their website effectively. i helped them set up a calendar, sign up for a Flickr account, and publish their newsletter in blog form. when the site went live, i felt very proud to have worked with an organization that encourages children to sing.
now, granted, both things were paid jobs. the 80 year old woman and the northfield youth choirs both wrote checks to my employer for the time i spent with them. but it wasn’t just work for me. i helped to serve people in a way that makes other people’s lives easier and more complete. because of me, the northfield youth choirs will be able to use their website as an effective tool for communicating with members and the community at large. because of my time, an 80 year old woman can now communicate with her friends and family more easily. i did something that made me feel good, and that gave my skills with technology a positive outlet.
i’ve always felt most confident and sure of myself when i’m helping others. whether it be helping a college radio station set up a streaming feed on the internet, or spending six weeks in the summer working with kids to help them learn technology and show them that being a nerd and a geek is ok, i find that i feel best employed in the service of other people.
that’s why i’ve decided that, in addition to graduate schools, i’m going to apply to volunteer for the peace corps and several americorps programs, like AmeriCorps*NCCC and AmeriCorps*National. god knows that there are people who can use help with technology, and perhaps this will give me a way use my powers for awesome.
anyway, enough of this deep shit. i’m going to go clean some more.