Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Learning to Love

Name: Ioana Marginean
From: Chestnut Hill, MA
Grade: Junior
School: Boston College
Votes: 2

Ioana Marginean

22 August 2017

Youth Forward
Scholarship 2017 – Round 2

Learning
to Love

‘Volunteerism’ is a term that has somewhat bureaucratized the
age-old, natural, and humanistic propensity of lending a helping hand
to one’s neighbor. Indeed, in today’s ever-changing urban culture
characterized by a growing disconnect between people, volunteering
for a noble cause, be it paramount or trivial, is how many
individuals seek to find or to attain a higher level of humanity
within themselves.

I, too, have experienced that unadulterated, joyous feeling of seeing
my personal efforts and strains contributing to the welfare of
another person. This past summer, I had the great privilege of
traveling to Romania for a month, of which I spent two weeks at the
Pro Vita Orphanage located at Valea Plopului. There, Fr. Tanase, an
Orthodox priest, along with a team of volunteers, has taken on a
lifelong challenge of providing for children in need. Currently,
there are over 400 children ranging from infants to high school
graduates at Valea Plopului. As a volunteer, I was in charge of
various tasks dealing with the running of the orphanage, such as
helping with the construction of a new residence building, meal
preparation, cleaning, and attending to the children. Newly-arrived
and energetic volunteer that I was, I wanted to make a lasting impact
on the children by encouraging them to pursue a righteous path in
their life, full of magnanimity and love for their work and for the
others around them. What I had not expected was for that lesson to be
returned back to me.

I had expected the children to be cautious of strangers, unwelcome
toward the different ideas that I would impart upon them. Instead,
the first thing that hit me as I entered their play space was a
gigantic bear hug from a four year-old girl followed by endless
questions about myself. Over the course of that first day, once the
girls found out I was very good at making intricate braided
hairstyles, I was surrounded by a loving circle of eager learners. It
was during that bonding time that I tried to impart what dreams I had
for my own life, but as I was talking, I noticed disinterestedness in
the girls; they didn’t want to hear about other people’s
dreams–they wanted to better define their own. And the way that they
did that was to greet each new volunteer that entered their lives
with all the love and open-mindedness they had.

I plan to return to Valea Plopului next year to see the progression
of the children that I met there. This yearly trip is my own
forward-looking goal. To be forward-looking is to have initiative, to
have a vision, for the betterment of tomorrow. Although I was just a
small drop of water in the sea of work that needs to be accomplished
there each day, I believe that my paltry contribution, if reinforced
annually, will allow for an unbreakable bond of friendship to form
between me and the young boys and girls from the other side of the
world that taught me to be open and joyous each and every day and to
further carry that message to the children in need of the western
hemisphere.


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