Presbyterian Ladies’ College student Katherine Lee shares how her perceptions and views changed whilst completing her Duke of Ed. She gives insight to her own experiences of volunteering at an age care home as well as her involvement with VGEN World Vision. Through these experiences, Katherine realised how making small changes can help make a positive difference to the greater community. Here is her story:

Duke of Ed was not a program that appealed to me initially. The notion of committing to volunteering for 20 hours and stepping out of what I was used to at the time specially did not seem like an attraction in the program. I was never the type of person who thought about helping people or approaching a task that I wasn’t comfortable with. I was so fixed on the conception that I would never change this way of thinking, however that ignorant judgment was soon proven wrong when it perceived to me that there is more to the Duke of Ed program when you look in to it.

I started off the program with volunteering at an old age care doing various jobs such as serving them dinner, entertaining them with modern activities and sometimes even being the entertainer myself. Once they found out I could play the piano, it became my stable job to do so every week. I didn’t like doing the job as I often messed up but every single time I finish playing one of the elderly would say it was beautiful and thank me for playing. Often, I go away with the thought that It would only takes little effort to make someone else’s day a whole lot better. Even so, that thought didn’t hover for long.

End of last year, I advanced onto the silver level as I felt like I need more insight to the program. This time, I endeavored to volunteer at an early learning center. It was quite a contrasting experience as I now encountered with younger people. Again, I found myself thinking about these people and how I may influence them. There was this deep sense of connectivity between me and the children, how I wanted them to develop and how they can make a difference in the world. These thoughts didn’t just linger when I was volunteering, they soon started to come about in daily life as well.

I was constantly thinking about arising issues in the world.

Why is there the problem of poverty and inequality and how can we prevent and lessen it? What can I do as an individual to make a difference?

The queries also made me conscious that some people may be like me, where they think ‘Making a difference in the world is not for me no matter how I think about it’ and other times, people want to make a difference but they don’t know how to and where to start.

There have been many situations in my life where I was so resolved and closed minded about tasks I didn’t have a passion for, but through the people I met from doing the Duke of Ed, It has sparked newfound passions and interests that I never would consider before.

Katherine Lee (above) says her Duke of Ed experiences sparked new found passions and interests.

Upon doing the Duke of Ed, I have joined many other organizations to pursue my passion for world change. I am currently part of the VGEN world vision and am planning to go to India next year volunteering in the more unprivileged parts teaching basic education and religion to young children. Duke of Ed acts as a practical platform for young people who want to volunteer globally but don’t know where to start. It is also an eye opening experience needed within the community. Many young people nowadays don’t realize how big a problem poverty is in our world simply because we are living in luxury. When I asked one of the VGEN girls why aren’t young people not concerned with poverty she said,

“In an ideal world, the only way to get people caring and to start making changes is if they experience it themselves.”

You only start to realize how big of a problem it is when you are standing in the shoes of an underprivileged person.

Realistically, world poverty and global issues aren’t going to eradicate anytime soon. However, making small individual changes is counted towards changing for good.

Peter Singer once said,

“If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.”

Katherine’s story has also been published in The Australia Time’s new online magazine: GIVE . You can check it out here!

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