Go Global’s service programs go beyond surface level projects. We encourage authentic and deep connections through our projects across all countries and programs. Jenny Allen, a junior at North Carolina State University, has fully embraced the power of service while studying abroad!
Hello! My name is Jenny Allen and I go to North Carolina State University. For the past two days I have had a truly life changing and eye opening experience with helping out the newly founded Salvation Army in Athens, Greece. Throughout my life, giving back to the community and the people who are having a hard time has always been important to me. However, my perspective of service has changed in these past two days. If I’m being totally honest, I never really thought small tasks like painting a wall, or organizing clothes could really make an impact to a big community that is struggling so much. However, after hearing Maria talk about how much these kinds of things can change an entire persons life, it made me more enthusiastic about the work that I was doing. Not only for the great feeling of significance it made me feel, but knowing how much my work can help out these people who have lost almost everything. For example, today I painted a wall to create a fun mural that the people will be able to enjoy when they spend time on the patio at the Salvation Army. At first thought this might not seem very important, but in reality, it can change the moods of these people dramatically and make their entire days brighter. Another example that Maria told us that really stuck with me was about a little boy that refused to go to school because he didn’t have a backpack and his shoes were too big for his feet. The Salvation Army was able to give the little boy a superhero backpack and a pair of shoes that fit his feet. Something that may seem so small to us was truly life changing for this little boy. He now has a positive attitude about getting up and going to school. Knowing that simple acts like donating old clothes or backpacks really gives me a sense of gratitude for the privileges I have in my life. This week has also taught me that there are other types of service that I do not think about on the surface level. For example, it’s not only important to donate clothes, its important to make sure that they are something worthy of these people that do not want to lose their dignity. If I gave away my old shirts with holes all over them, these people might feel degraded, and that’s not a good way for us to help them build their self-confidence. After all, they are people too, and they don’t want us to treat them unequally just because of what they have lost in this time of economic depression. Another thing to keep in mind is that instead of just dropping off my clothes, it would also be extremely helpful for me to ask the Salvation Army if they need a volunteer to help organize, even if it’s just for a few hours. Last but not least, another thing that will be important for me to do when I return to the US is to educate my friends and family about these things that I have learned from this service learning experience. This will help them to not only think about how they can help on the surface level, but how they can really get involved and do something important enough to change an entire families life.