Name: Jia Rong Tan
From: Alhambra, CA
Grade: High School Senior
School: Mark Keppel High School
Imagine waves of people pushing past each other to get to the front of a stand. Everyone is shouting to be heard and waving the vegetables they handpicked to buy. People are fighting to get their hands on the best produce available. This chaos happens every Friday at my local farmer’s market.
During my freshman year, I decided to volunteer there once every week for about 2 hours. As a volunteer, I provided assistance to vendors by selling produce to buyers, weighing vegetables, setting up stands, organizing the workplace, assisting customers, and running errands. The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with the massive amount of customers. Whenever I would be assisting a customer, there would be at least 4 others waiting for me.
Initially, I was not really interested in what I did and just wanted to get my hours done. Maybe this was because I didn’t know much about the Farmer’s Market, only that it was a place where vendors sold produce. However, as I began to grow closer to the people around me, I realized that many of the people who sold and bought vegetables at the market were low-income immigrants and that the farmer’s market was there to help them. It provided jobs to many struggling families
and nutritious, affordable food to others, and thus the market was essential to our community. This discovery has completely changed my view on volunteering.
Volunteerism gave me a sense of accomplishment. Not only did I enjoy engaging with my community, I also observed how my efforts yielded significant benefits to both vendors and consumers, alleviating the endless workload of vendors and speeding up the process for customers. Seeing the waves of people diminish felt rewarding. I felt like I was an important and necessary part of the farmer’s market and my community as a whole. I believe my activities have made a difference
because by volunteering, not only did I make the lives of vendors and customers easier, I made meaningful connections within my community that are much more influential to our development in the future decades to come.
Volunteerism has helped me grow as an individual and has inspired me to continue to engage with my community in the future, and that is why I consider my activities to be “forward looking.” To me, “forward looking” means having the propensity to engage others to get involved with their communities. My activities could serve as motivation for others. If a typical high school student who originally volunteered for selfish reasons could become interested and get more involved in the community, then why can’t others who are like me do the same? I want to encourage others to give volunteering a chance because it gives one a sense of accomplishment and belonging in a community. If enough people do the little things
to improve their communities, change can be fostered immediately.