Guest Column: Caring

by Michelle Silva, sophomore at Whitworth University

Whitworth University has been a PACE partner since its inception. Every September, classes at this university are cancelled for the better part of a day in order for students to take part in service projects throughout the community. The following is my reflection on the traits of caring and compassion as they apply my life and experience at a local elementary school on Community Building Day.

I have always found happiness in helping others. All throughout my high school career, I involved myself in volunteering opportunities within my community. And with all of my different, unique experiences, nothing touches my heart more than being able to help students in need. Since I have a passion for education and supporting financially unstable students, Community Building Day meant a lot to me.

I come from a family that struggled with money. I’m not ashamed about it at all. Although my parents couldn’t provide me with a lot of funds while growing up, I was able to see the bigger picture. I always knew that I had hundreds of resources surrounding me whenever I stepped into my school. The education system does such an amazing job of giving students equal opportunity. Yet not all kids see that. I was lucky enough to attend a high school where my teachers truly cared about me.

My school taught me the definition of compassion. We all helped one another in different ways, as much as possible. I felt comfortable talking to staff about certain problems I’d be having whether they be mental, physical, financial, academic, and more. It was an unexplainable feeling knowing that I had people there who were so willing to look out for me. Personally, the one moment I have experienced the biggest sense of compassion was when my school raised the largest amount of money in our whole school district to donate to a local sick child in need. The best part about it was that we are ranked as the “poorest” school in our district… In my opinion, that’s the definition of compassion. It’s feeling the need to help people no matter what the circumstance is.

Today, so many people took time out of their day to come and talk to the students at the elementary school. Whitworth isn’t forced to plan Community Building Day every year, it’s a choice. We chose to come together and make this day happen. I’m so fortunate that I got to experience this opportunity with my class. Due to my past experiences as I have mentioned, kids who have no confidence in the education arena due to their financial situation are close to my heart. I can’t stand the thought of money getting in the way of a child’s future.

Even though we don’t know their stories or their home lives, I believe that a large portion of the students we spent time with aren’t in the best situations. It felt good to provide them with tips and encouragement to attend college in the future. When I looked around and saw all the Whitworth students having conversations with the kids I got goose-bumps. I hope that in the future these young students realize the compassion and love that they are surrounded by. I hope they know that people care about them. I hope they continue to share this compassion with their peers in their near future, too.

Michelle Silva is a sophomore at Whitworth University, majoring in Communication, minoring in Spanish and coaching. She is on the Whitworth Pirates softball team.

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