I recently had to opportunity to visit the Rising Star campus as a volunteer. I thought I would share just a couple of my many life-changing experiences which gave new meaning to this quote:
“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” – G.K. Chesterton
My first day on campus was a medical day. That meant that we packed up the van and drove to nearby colonies to wash wounds and change bandages. While driving to the colony we split up the tasks and I was put on washing duty. I was terrified to say the least. I hate to admit it, but I wanted to say no. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and despite my inner insecure dialogue, I stammered out an “okay.” I’m sure my face was screaming no, but thankfully I said yes. After learning my responsibilities at the washing station, it was only seconds before the first eager person sat down,
ready to have their wounds cleaned. Slightly apprehensive, I began doing the best I could. The faces that radiated gratitude and love for what I was doing, quickly put me at ease. I soon realized I had been standing on a metaphorical peak, allowing fear to inhibit me from seeing the great things I could be seeing from the valley. That became my favorite job and I was truly sad when I had to switch to another job. The wonderful members of that colony I was trying to serve that day helped me see that we can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love, Mother Theresa once said.
Coming into my volunteer experience, I wanted to help these people in India and do something that would be beneficial. I assumed that my great contribution would be some large, extensive project. Just like before, I was wrong. Later on that week, the kids on campus were putting together various acts to perform in a school talent show. They needed different talents to showcase, and with experience in dance, my little sister and I decided to help the girls learn a dance that they could perform. We started rounding up the girls and had a blast putting our performance together. As we practiced, not every step was perfect, and the girls often relied on the person in front of them to remember many of the steps. That didn’t matter though, not to them, not to me, and especially not to the audience. The girls performed with confidence. It was fun to watch these girls participate in something and be truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the talent show. I realized again, that small things can be done with great love and can make a huge difference. These little girls and this opportunity was one of the many highlights of my India experience. My experience on the Rising Star campus was life-changing. I grew to love everything about it and especially the kids. They are the sweetest, happiest, and most loving children you will ever know and because of them, I am better. I was lucky enough to have this experience in India, but if there is one thing I hope you can see from a couple of my stories, it’s that you can do great things where ever you are, as long as you are willing to do them. Let’s all do small things with great love!
–Ali Reilley Read
2013 Summer Volunteer