After my trip to Phuket in ninth grade, I wanted to continue to do direct service work globally when I had the chance. I was inspired to be physically there to see the world beyond Yokohama and enhance my understanding besides reading and research off of the laptop screens.
“Is it really safe?”
That was what my parents had first asked me when I told them about the Cambodia Trip, provided every year at school. Of course, the safety of their child was the first thing on their mind. After all, parents are good at worrying about their children. The word ‘worry’ is an inconvenient thing. People worry all the time and too frequently to the point that we use the word for even the smallest things. Although my perception of ‘worry’ has been shaped throughout my experiences in the Cambodia trip and the direct service opportunity that I was privileged to partake in. (Click here to continue to read my journey in Cambodia)
Before the trip, every trip participants were required to reach a goal of 75,000 yen. At first, I felt that the number was unachievable, however, with the help of my fundraising group and the brainstorming and discussing, I was able to generate several possible fundraising ideas. From classic bake-sales, Starbucks runs, crowdfunding, tutoring, raising awareness from family relatives, and new fundraising opportunities such as planning an event. Some were more successful than others, and some much more time-consuming and challenging than others.
Two of my memorable and perhaps favorite fundraising experience, with one being small, and another one that involved a wider audience, both consisted the process of scratching an idea and compromising on a new one. It sounds quite strange, as I basically rephrased the fact that I enjoyed failing on an idea I worked extremely hard on, and move on to start on a new one. Although, you will see why I think this way.
I had always wanted to plan an event, although, most fundraising groups had already signed up to organize existing events at school, so I had to gain some new perspective. During a conversation with my past PE teacher, he talked about how someone had planned a “Lip Sync Battle” in the past but the idea was suddenly lost. I was very keen on the idea and had gathered different roles for my fundraising group to help make the idea come true. We had a set date of the event, I had made the setup plan, and all we needed was teachers to lip sync. However, there was a crash between schedules, and the idea was starting to become less achievable. Until one day, we came to the realization that it was not going to happen. At this stage, I had felt both disappointed and embarrassed. Perhaps it was a mistake, I thought. Since I wanted to raise awareness amongst a wider audience, I didn’t want to give up, so I had ended up setting a small activity of “Guess the Song” during a school event; Studentainment, with the help of my friend and successfully raised donations at the end. Although I was not expecting any of this, now that I reflect on it, I was thankful to have gone through that process because I wouldn’t have learned the hardships of fundraising.
The second important fundraising experience was my individual fundraising for teaching art for an autistic child. Before the experience, I remember I was anxious and afraid because I had never encountered a situation like this. Although, with my passion for both Visual Arts and Psychology, I was motivated and encouraged to do the experience. A significantly important part of the process was my initial research on autism and art therapy. Since I was not experienced with interacting with an autistic child, I had to plan and prepare for the experience. First, noticing the child’s skills were important to plan the lesson. Secondly, the structure of the plan was important to create a prepared lesson. However, not everything will go along with the plan, therefore flexibility was another factor that had to be implemented, which was the most challenging part of the experience.
During the experience, the first lesson was the most difficult because the child had spoken Chinese with his mother, and I was not a fluent Chinese speaker but only preferred listening. Although I had come with a plan and bought new art tools, the lesson did not go as well as the child had preferred to stick with his usual drawing, and I could not follow my plan. This was not like an event, where I could plan another event. I had to think of alternatives on the spot and improvise. I had noticed that he was skilled in writing Chinese characters–short and precise lines–and I had thought about exploring with lines through architectural drawing and perspectives. I became aware of and appreciated the fact that taking Visual Arts had helped me greatly because of the Elements & Principles of Arts. Learning the basics was always useful in developing skills and techniques. By the end of the experience, I had noticed that the child was able to follow my plan, even when the skill was not what he was used to. I was also developing more options for the lesson plan for the flexibility. I learned that although fundraising was a difficult and challenging process, taking the time to think about helping people benefited me as a person, not just a student who was concerned about school and academics.