Sorry for not posting on Thursday; exam week has gotten me feeling a bit hectic! But I’m back…
I’ve been saying since I was little that when I grow up I want to change the world. At Duke, everyone wants to change the world. Everyone wants to do something big, to help a ton of people. But then I see YikYaks about students feeling lonely or depressed, see students wiping their eyes as they come out of the bathroom, see anxious and stressed students discussing their performance on their latest exam. And so I begin to wonder that maybe in telling each other that we want to help millions of people, we’re missing the hundreds around us that need help, too.
I came across this quote yesterday and it really struck me.
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” -Marion Wright Edelman (huge advocate for child rights)
We seem to forget that changing just one person is changing the world.
For my Education 101 class, I tutor a fourth grader twice a week at a local elementary school. So often I help her with the mindset: “I’m here to fulfill my 18 hours, so I can get an A in this course, so I can get an Education Minor, so I can graduate with a good GPA, so I can go to graduate school and get a phD in Education, so I can improve education policy in the US and beyond, so I can change the world.”
But what about my fourth grader?
She’s a Hispanic student whose family just immigrated from Mexico. She aches for her blind and paralyzed brother, who is still in Mexico. Her family is struggling financially, and they do not speak English.
If I really believe that education is the way out of poverty, that education gives people a chance, that education is empowering, then why I am approaching my tutor sessions as a stepping stone to my career to change the world? These tutoring sessions are me changing the world. I’m giving my fourth grader a chance. I’m teaching her English. I’m helping her learn her multiplication facts. I’m empowering her to take charge of her education and to use it to succeed in the world.
Changing the world is not about quantity. No, changing the world is about quality.
I may not have helped five million people. But I helped my fourth grader. And she is as much part of the world as the five million.
Think about your daily actions. For a lot of us, college does seem like a stepping stone to “bigger and better things”. But it’s not a stepping stone. It’s simply four years of opportunities to change the world, to help the people around you.
I know you want to change the world. But don’t forget that it’s about quality. Don’t forget that you can change the world today, with just one person. Don’t forget the little differences that add up to giant differences.