AWB 2017 Simple and Blunt Intentions
By Sharon Schoenfeld
Today AWB volunteered at a Christmas Party for underprivileged families, with the hope of providing gifts, haircuts, and some holiday cheer to them. Most of the students were working with children in the carnival area of the ‘Birthday Party for Jesus’. I chose to work with kids at the Face Painting station.
Overall, the experience was one of joyousness and fulfillment. It always strokes a portion of a person’s ego to help another, but when it has meaning, the time spent can be transformative to all involved. While reflecting on the day, a specific interaction that I had with a little girl named Rashida stuck with me.
Rashida, accompanied by her mother, had been waiting in line for the bouncy castle for 15 minutes. Rashida began to cry when the line didn’t seem to be moving. Her mother silenced 7 year old Rashida and disciplined her tears. This act, unsurprisingly, upset the child more. Rashida ran away from this painful interaction, for a moment, before stopping to collect herself and calmly ask her mom for permission to get her face painted. Permission was granted. And she came over to me.
Rashida walked over with fierce excitement and a tinge of understandable sadness. When she sat down, her mother left. I was relieved that the negative energy walked away with Rashida’s mom.
I began to tell Rashida, while painting a sparkly butterfly on her hand, that I cry often. She asked if I get in trouble for it. I replied by saying sometimes crying can help the situation and sometimes it can poorly affect it. The difference lies with the action we take after we collect ourselves.
I told Rashida that I was impressed at how calmly she asked to get her face painted. Her face lit up. “Sometimes I cry and I can’t stop crying but I didn’t want to cry today because it’s Christmas,” she commented quietly. We sat in silence for a moment as I finished the less-than-awesome animal on her hand.
“What’s your name?” She asked. “It’s Nava. I replied.” She leaned in to give me a hug.
This interaction is one of great meaning to me. Ironically, going into service for me can sometimes feel selfish. Am I doing more this more to feel okay about myself? Or am I doing it with the simple and blunt intention to give to others?
After I saw the unsettling situation between Rashida and her mom, I had the intention of connecting with her. I related to her discomfort and anxiety. And when she sat down on the seat in front of me, it felt like fate had willed us to talk.
I think service become transformative and beautiful when givers come in with a purpose. Rather than have the desire simply to ‘give’; entering a space of giving with a specific and focused desire. Sharing a part of me with Rashida felt like that specific desire, and through that vulnerability, I became deeply fulfilled by this small interaction I had today.
~ Nava Schorsch; 11th grade, Bronx, NY