Wherever You Are, Be There
A midterm actually taught me real lessons that apply to my life? What?! Not only that, but it was incredibly difficult to narrow them down to only three. But here’s a shot at it:
1 – Be present. The quotation on the cover of our class booklet keeps coming back to me: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” I realized how many opportunities I am given on a daily basis to really make a difference in an individual’s life, and yet I pass them up because I am “too busy” making sure everything is going well in my own life. I prepare to solve the world problems but overlook the problems in Provo, UT.
The impact I can have locally has been made more real to me in the past week. Math 112 has kicked my little hiney since this semester began two months ago. I have spent hours and hours guessing how to calculate limits and differentiate messes like y=tan-1(6sinx)lnax, and for two months I couldn’t quite grasp the concepts. Last weekend I met with a volunteer tutor for one hour and I actually understood calculus! It was such a small thing, but such a big thing for me right now. The one hour the tutor offered made a real difference to me.
So many people here in Provo can benefit from our talents and abilities! We need to share them right now, not save them for later. Be present.
2 – Focus on the people, not the problem. A social problem by definition is a problem that affects society. Because it affects society as a whole, that means it affects many individuals who make up a society. These individuals aren’t tally marks that combine to create statistics. They are people, and they each have a unique, personal story. I would love to solve social problems as a whole, but until I figure out how to do that I will focus on helping individuals one at a time—here in Provo.
3 – Problems are easy to identify; solutions are much more difficult to come up with. However, a little research goes a long way. In just a few hours we created a map of a specific problem, and we can now identify key gaps that are potential points of entry to address the social problem. Along the same lines, personal interviews are incredibly helpful and insightful. If I want to address a problem, I need to start by talking to the people involved.
I’ll finish by sharing a favorite quotation: “Wherever you are, be there.” We’re in Provo. Let’s make a difference here before we move on in our lives.