I recently attended a function to hear the guest speaker, Lizzie Brown, speak about her role with Engineers without Borders, an organisation that provides practical solutions to environmental problems for Indigenous communities in remote areas of Australia, in impoverished areas in Cambodia and East Timor-Leste. By identifying environmental and economic challenges within these communities, working with local leaders and creating innovative, cost-effective solutions, Engineers without Borders have been able to work across borders, making a significant, positive impact upon the lives of people living in these communities.
Médecins sans Frontières, referred to as Doctors without Borders, provides essential medical services and humanitarian aid in remote areas and war zones, where there may be no access to medical and emergency aid services without the contribution of medical personnel working within Médecins sans Frontières. The Fred Hollows Foundation provides critical ophthalmic services to detect and treat glaucoma experienced by Indigenous Australians. Blue Dragon was established by Australian, Michael Brosowski, to provide support and education for homeless youth in Vietnam. The School of St Jude was founded by Australian, Jemma Sisia, to provide education to the poorest children in Tanzania. These and many other organisations have been established by individuals and groups with professional skills that can be used to assist others who are in desperate need of their services.
People invited to speak to students about their work often refer to ways in which they are using their abilities, talents and professional skills to provide for the needs of people in their own and broader communities. Community, Activity and Service, the CAS component of the IB, is designed to help students develop self-awareness, build skills and use these skills to enhance their community. This is one of the ways in which the IB emphasises the importance of using one’s skills and talents in the service of others. There are many ways in which students contribute to the people and organisations in their community.
Graduating high-school seniors admitted to Princeton University are being encouraged to take a year off before starting University, under a program designed to promote global service. The need to focus on someone else’s needs is transforming Princeton and students have undertaken a range of services. Corporate Social Responsibility trends have resulted in large corporate bodies seconding professionals from their businesses to work in and assist community organisations to develop skills and services which will in turn support members of the community. Experienced professionals compete for these positions because they feel they are able to use their talents and skills in a meaningful way to contribute to disadvantaged groups.
Many students are compassionate and altruistic; they want to make a difference in others’ lives; they want to respond to needs in this country and in other parts of the world; they hope to influence the future. By selecting careers congruent with their abilities, interests and values, identifying or creating opportunities to use their talents in the service of others, individuals can have a very positive impact on the future.
© Michele Juratowitch