The two weeks that I spent serving in the community of Ende has made me realize three important takeaways: (1) First is that kindness knows no language. My highly limited ability to speak the local language did not prevent me and my teammates from benefitting from the overly warm reception we received from the community. A smile is a smile, and a kind act done with the noblest intentions can truly pierce through human differences.

One unforgettable display of kindness, among many other things, that I will forever treasure is the farewell activity done for us by all of the schools where we served. They prepared almost half a day’s worth of activities such as singing and dancing just to express their immense gratitude for our presence.

What I failed to grasp fully in their language was more than compensated by what I felt from what the students and teachers’ hearts were beating for in those moments. Overall, there was just this pure joy in everyone, and we were all one with them.

(2) Second is the power of saying yes. You say yes to an opportunity, you make yourself available, you do not back down from a challenge, and a ton of opportunities will be unlocked. I will never forget when I took on the challenge of doing the Read Aloud sessions during our workshops for the parents. It was nerve-wracking! Yet with the help of my teammates and the internal resolve that I had to dug deep into, I ended up doing just fine.

Thank the universe I said yes! Had I succumbed to my worries and gave up on the activity completely, then I would probably have never felt closely the immeasurable impact of our workshop to our intended audience. I guess this principle of saying yes also applies to serving yourself and others in general. Saying yes to service in whatever capacity holds a ton of power. And sometimes, it only takes saying one word to ignite transformational change.

(3) Lastly, being a part of this pilot project of engaging parents as readers in their respective homes affirmed my desire to devote my life in doing development work. The most inspirational impact of any endeavor for me is the self-transformation that one would experience from within.

Seeing first-hand how our project has slowly but surely sown the seeds for the love of reading right in the core of those families magnified essential aspects in life that I hold dear: courage, compassion, connection, and imagination. It is through this two-week engagement that I discovered my leadership potential and what I could possibly deliver if I only keep on marching on. I learned to make compromises for my own growth and of others. This for me is the true essence of empowerment.


Phillipines, March 2019