Learning Selfless Service firsthand

“I learned that serving means not pitying your people but instead working alongside them as your equal.”

I think it’s funny that I considered service to be such an important part of my life for as long as I could remember and I can finally say today and I have seen self less service first hand for the first time. Finding an opportunity like volunteering at Starfish is so unique because you can intentionally buy a ticket to go see the Eiffel Tower or the Niagara Falls but it’s so rare to find an opportunity to experience self less service. I think as a concept, most people understand what self less service is but I feel eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it and go beyond just understanding the definition.

What I have learned about service while being here at Starfish is that you cannot plan a service project while you are removed from the community that is going to benefit from it. The first step to all service is to make a connection with the people of that community. To listen and understand the way of life rather than assuming that implementing yours will be the best for them. This means that when you want to serve a community you have to become a part of that community. Once you become a part then your service becomes using your resources to serve your people rather than giving your resources to try and pull people up to your level. Service becomes walking with the people rather than standing at the finish line urging them to get there faster. Both are done with good intentions. I think people who serve from a perspective that they are giving to others who will be receiving are trying their best to cope with the restlessness that comes with having to see injustices around them, but they just haven’t yet thought about taking a step in the shoes of the oppressed to understand what is really needed and that maybe they’re not far behind but just on a different path altogether. Starfish has opened my eyes to understanding the true meaning of service, a gift I will only be able to repay with more selfless service.