Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

The Story of Self: Journey in Public Service

Public service had been a fundamental stepping stone for my personal development in high school. I had first started volunteering, and further engaging with my community in high school. This engagement fostered my sense of self and purpose. Thus, when I came to Harvard College, I naturally gravitated towards the community service opportunities provided. 

In my freshman year, I started volunteering with Chinatown ESL, a program which works with adult immigrants in Boston's Chinatown to develop English language proficiency. The program was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, I had no sufficient knowledge of the Phillips Brooks House Association, even though Chinatown ESL was under the organization. For that first year, I continued to volunteer weekly with Chinatown ESL and cultivated meaningful relationships through these classes. I was able to learn about the lives and motivations of the participants, and thus was able to personalize classes to tailor to their needs. 
During the next semester, Spring 2021, I tried continued volunteering with Chinatown ESL, however I also applied to volunteer with another program, Chinatown Afterschool Program. The Chinatown Afterschool Program worked with a younger demographic of elementary school students. Though all Phillips Brooks House Association programs had remained virtual, I found the two programs energizing and my weekly form of connection with the Greater Boston Area. 

Naturally, I continued my work with the Phillips Brooks House Association in the summer through their Summer Urban Program. Up until the summer, I still had limited knowledge of, and association with the organization. I was mainly focused on the two individual programs I had volunteered with. 

This distance was bridged when I started working as a Senior Counselor for the Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment program within PBHA’s Summer Urban Program. Through their Summer Urban Program, I was able to meet volunteers beyond my own programs and learn about their experiences as we supported each other along the way. Being involved in PBHA has connected me with a community of like minded people, passionate about service and genuine. I have been able to connect with different parts of the Greater Boston community. There is a true joy in connecting with communities and the world beyond yourself. 

As I continue to deepen my involvement in PBHA, I am constantly amazed by the dedication to service and kindness from those around me. Now, I am an officer on the student officers team as I continue to volunteer with my own program- Chinatown Afterschool Program. Volunteering in person has allowed me to connect to the students in a deeper way and make work more meaningful through all the small interactions.


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