The Power of Small Acts of Compassion
The proverb "give with a willing heart" was frequently used when I grew up in Jamaica. The elders of my country also prioritized respect and etiquette above all else. So, disengaging yourself from that lifestyle was met with severe criticism. It was taught by pastors, school teachers, and even random strangers at the ATM when you did not grant them a smile with your greeting. Selflessness thus became a philosophy ingrained in children's brains for many generations. Undoubtedly, that is how I grew up.
Small acts of compassion
My parents and grandmother were the most influential people in my life as I was growing up. I'd always see them donating their time to aid people in need or simply extending a helpful hand to others. Most of the time, they were met with kind smiles and gratitude. On other occasions, however, I observed my family cheerfully assisting someone without receiving anything in return, not even a thank you. I became irritated with them. Don't they at least deserve gratitude? I never understood why they did what they did when I was younger, and no matter how much influence I had, I always thought they were wasting their time.
They'd constantly chuckle and say, “Jill, you are blessed because you give with an open heart.” And after a few years, this lesson would settle in. A small act of compassion may transform someone's life in ways I would never imagine.
In eighth grade, I became interested in community service for the first time with my grandmother. That encounter altered the course of my life. My grandmother founded an organization that dedicated its time to feeding the homeless. I volunteered with her for three months that year.
During that time, we cooked our food by hand and delivered it to various homeless individuals across downtown Jamaica. Seeing the curious eyes brim with excitement when they spotted our conspicuous food truck was rewarding. Everyone was especially thrilled to try new recipes because there was a fresh menu every week. They would also embrace me and tell me how much they appreciated what I was doing, and even if some did not express their gratitude openly, knowing that I was doing something to help someone else made it all worthwhile. I could now see why she loved to volunteer. It was amazing to be a part of something that helped many people.
The gift of kindness
My selflessness is a quality I don't value enough these days. I'm not flawless, and I occasionally lose sight of my principles. However, when I think of the person I want to be and the person I want to influence those who look up to me, selflessness is the homage I want them to strive for. Although I can see how people could regard this as a vulnerability, as I did once, it is not. Kindness, I feel, is a gift that anybody may receive. However, having the courage to express it is incredibly admirable.
While at Hillsborough Community College, I began to see more of this characteristic. I enjoy volunteering, so I joined the student government and organized a clothing drive. Even if these activities are small, they have significantly influenced my school and personal life. They helped me find my voice, step out of my comfort zone, and accomplish something I am passionate about.
Although I may not have enjoyed this way of living at first, I cannot imagine my life going any other way. I don't believe it's enough to say you love something; you must actively demonstrate it and constantly seek ways to improve. For the rest of my time at HCC and in the future, that is what I will continue doing.
|Jillian Ireland from Jamaica is studying cyber security at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida.|
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