Many high schools and learning institutions require students to do voluntary work or community service for a specified duration as a pre-qualification for graduation. Some organizations also put voluntary work experience as an informal requirement for their prospective employees. As a result, many people engage in voluntary work simply to achieve a specified end. However, it was only this week when I got to learn the true meaning of volunteering as we, in our school Environmental Management Club, joined a group of community based organizations in the annual town clean-up exercise. Despite having worked as a volunteer in one of the participating organizations before, it was my first time to do a clean-up. I had deliberately joined the club to get further training on volunteering but shortly thereafter, I was nominated to join the organizing committee of this event. I could not imagine how interesting it could be, wearing dust coats, dust masks and hand gloves cleaning up the city streets. A talk on volunteering, community service and environmental management would follow.
As soon as we got to the streets, I realized how important this event was. Renowned environmentalists, professionals and leaders, including top dignitaries all put aside their statuses and turned up for the clean-up exercise, interacting with us freely and happily. This taught me one great virtue in life, humility. Besides, the talks from our guests changed my perception totally about the environment as they educated us on contemporary environmental issues and concepts, particularly, climate change, global warming and carbon trading and how, in our own little ways, we could participate in reducing their effects by properly managing our immediate environment. In addition, I had an opportunity to interact and network with various professionals and dignitaries, who greatly inspired me. I now embark on the pursuit of my dream career – to be an environmental health practitioner – with renewed passion and humbling experience which will certainly help me in dealing with people and managing my environment better.