Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Hunger for Learning… and Food

Name: Hannah Pais
From: Burlington , Massachusetts
Grade: 10
School: Burlington High School
Votes: 1155

I often got frustrated when I was little because I didn’t have that
“hunger” for learning that other students possessed in elementary
school. I was always naturally good at learning, but never
appreciated what I was receiving. This all changed one summer when I
went to visit my nana in India when I was 9 years old. There was a
boy on the ground outside our taxi, scrawny, homeless, dirty, and
begging for food. Being a naïve 9 year-old, I assumed the boy just
ran away from home, but my mom later told me that his family was
homeless, how that little boy was probably my age, and had no food or
education like I was able to receive. This changed me, both as a
student, and as a person. I remember coming home and immediately
signing up to volunteer at the Burlington Food Pantry. I later
decided to volunteer at the Burlington Public Library as a tutor when
I entered 8th grade. I volunteer for the Food Pantry twice
a month for three hours on Saturday mornings before work, and at the
library two times a week usually, depending on how many kids need
help and how much help they need. As a Food Pantry volunteer, I sort
goods, create hygiene packages, unload donation deliveries, and
several other tasks. For tutoring, I help in every subject, mostly
Math and English. My biggest challenge at the Food Pantry was this
one time during Easter, we had candy bags donated from the Rotary
Club, and I saw these little kids overjoyed by something as simple as
a king-sized Twix bar. This was a challenge emotionally because it
made me feel so ungrateful and overpriveliged. When tutoring, the
biggest challenge is when you see someone working their absolute
hardest, and they still struggle to see results (I think we can all
relate). The greatest satisfaction of volunteering at both places is
going to bed at night knowing that your time and work genuinely
helped someone else. I have learned patience from tutoring, as well
as humility and hard work. Tutoring other students helps me find
better study habits that I can utilize myself. Volunteering at the
Food Pantry has taught me to be grateful for the big and small
blessings I receive in life, and how fortunate I am to have what I
have, like a home, food, and education. In the future, I see my
volunteering activities expanding, and attracting more young people
to engage in volunteering and to enjoy its benefits. The change I
seek through volunteering is making sure every person is able to have
a full stomach, and an equal opportunity of education, no matter
where in the world. Without a doubt, I think in thirty years that my
volunteer activities would have made a difference. I think I would
have inspired more young people in my community to participate in
volunteering, as well as enforcing the importance of education, and
donating food to people in need.

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