Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Before the Word Volunteer

Name: Luyan Nguyen
From: Garden Grove, CA
Grade: high school sophomore
School: Los Alamitos High School
Votes: 78

I was the little girl who genuinely enjoyed going to school.  My
inspiration to start helping at school came during daycare when I saw
older girls hanging up art projects and thinking it looked like a lot
of fun.  I was too young to know the word volunteering, but I
knew the act was something I wanted to do.  In first grade, I
began to help my teacher after school doing simple tasks like wiping
down desk, hanging up projects, and organizing papers because I found
it enjoyable.  I will never forget when my friend and I
sharpened a thousand pencils for STAR testing.  Every young girl
liked playing teacher, and I was able to everyday after school.
By the time I finished elementary school, I had contributed hundreds
of hours to my school, to something I loved.  Coming from such a
pure place, I never had a schedule for myself.  In middle
school, I was still very connected to my elementary school and would
often come back to help in the end-of-the-year activities, such as

Starting high school, finding the time to volunteer was increasingly difficult
due to the time demand of school and sports.  Determined to
overcome this and continue helping, I committed myself to
volunteering weekly at the local library.  This truly brought me
back to my roots as I worked in the children’s section.  Every
Friday for the last two years, I was surrounded by little kids eager
to read like I was when I was their age.  Nothing brings a smile
to my face faster than finding a book they have been excited to
read.  This year, I was introduced to Interact by a friend, and
this has allowed me to participate in more events.  My favorite
has to be the local elementary school science night where I was able
to assist a classroom full of kindergarteners through various
experiments.  Spreading something I love, science and math, to
young kids and seeing it reciprocated was not only an amazing feeling
for me, but for everyone else there: the volunteers and the parents.
Keeping with my love of simply helping people, I focus on the quality
I can add to people’s lives, rather than the quantity of hours.

For me, helping the next generation experience the joy I feel when
learning is important because it allows them to see what they can
achieve.  Going into the future, I plan to tutor at the middle
school and elementary school, to help them succeed in their personal
goals.  Years from now I do think that what I have done will
have made a difference, because I hope to inspire kids to love school
and motivate them to find their passion within it.  Later, I
plan to support improvements in education as well as see the building
of schools in developing countries.  I learned that a small
impact at a young age can lead to something more, and I will never
forget the day I felt inspired.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".