Kim Lien came into my life during the summer of 2008. She is two years older, but six inches smaller and fifteen pounds lighter than me. Lien can neither hear nor talk, but she has the biggest smile on her face. I met her while volunteering to teach homeless children how to read and write at a community center on the outskirts of Saigon. I was the “teacher”, yet she taught me to listen and showed me what it means to live life passionately despite circumstances. Meeting her has inspired me to get involved more deeply with service. And since then I have been a part of Ho Chi Minh City Red Cross, working with orphans, handicapped children, homeless people, and low-income families living in slums. The spurt of economic growth in recent years have widened the already gigantic income gap between the rich and poor and made Saigon needier than ever.
In 2010, I was whizzed off to a foreign land for the first time in my life. More opportunities of what I could do awaited me. As I was exploring new options, I found myself engaging in everything but service, from singing and dancing in a musical to climbing trees on the ropes course. I was learning new skills and challenging myself in many ways, yet something was missing. I need to feel that sense of human connection through giving and receiving again. I miss the feeling of putting another person at the center of focus, step back down from the usual “I” chanting, and let he/she teaches me about life.
Therefore, when the question of what to do for my senior project arose, I knew immediately what I wanted to do: the school-sponsored service trip to Washington D.C. In less than twenty hours, I along with six of my classmates will be at the nation’s capital for two weeks. We will stay at William Penn House and work with different service organizations in the District of Columbia.