Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – A New Perspective

Name: Elaine Lu
From: hacienda heights, CA
Grade: 12
School: Glen A. Wilson
Votes: 1

All my life I have been ignorant to the life of an elderly. I like to
think of my volunteering experience as a wake up call and an
opportunity to grow up mentally. Why did I decide an elderly home?
That’s what’s funny about it because I never imagined or thought
about volunteering at a nursing home full of elderly people. It was
actually a couple of my friends that suggested that we all took this
volunteer opportunity as an experience and the cliche reason: for
college apps. I remember going there every weekend in my sophomore
year of high school and junior year of high school. My friend and I
would stay at the nursing home for 3 hours per day. I would pass out
coffee to the elderly and play games with them such as cards. The
advisor told us to converse with the elderly and take them around the
nursing home in their wheelchairs. We also set up their lunch tables
and did little tasks such as putting on their socks for them. In the
beginning of my volunteer experience, I really did not enjoy going
there. To be frank the nursing home was smelly, gloomy, and the
advisor wasn’t really pleasant. I remember regretting signing up
for this and wished that I was home watching YouTube instead.
However, the more I volunteered and mingled with the elderly I
realized that it was quite sad. A lot of the elderly people looked
forward to company and really enjoyed it when the volunteers
conversed with them. The truth of being old hit me hard and I began
to look forward to talking to these elderly. I wanted to cherish
every memory I had with these elderly and treated them with more
love. Imagine having your parents or someone you knew in these
nursing homes except it’s a total stranger. I grew up mentally and
learned that patience was really critical in these situations. The
biggest challenge, however, is when the elderly were throwing
tantrums. I tried my best to keep my temper and tried to understand
why they were acting that way. A lot of love and patience was
required. The best feeling in the world is when you make the elderly
smile and when they shared their past experiences with you. I was
able to learn people skills and overall become a better person in
general. I was no longer that bitter teenager that woke up to do
volunteer at an elderly home just for the sake of doing it. All of
these circumstances developed patience in me. I used my emerging
people skills to build stronger relationships with my club members
and develop my relationships with the elderly I served. I remember
man named Shum, half of whose body was paralyzed from a seizure
incident. Despite his hardships, he continued to read every day and
asked me to help him select books. His ability to enjoy his life,
regardless of his disabilities, inspired me to become mentally
strong. It helped me want to pursue the career of a nurse which in my
opinion is my forward looking. It is a goal that I hope to achieve in
the future that will be great for the community. I want to help bring
more awareness towards the elderly, especially to younger people. If
I were to come back years later to this nursing home I think my
volunteering experience definitely made a difference because not only
did I learn from this I can also share these experiences with other
young people. I hope that people will be educated of these harsh
truths and not be blinded by blissful ignorance of youth.

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