Cultural Awareness Through Volunteering
Before my high school career, I had never volunteered at a primary site, never had the notion to serve at a single institution, where I doubted the difference I could make and was daunted by the time commitment.  However, a shift occurred in me.  I realized the severity of my ignorance as I was accepted into the Youth Engaged in Service program, which taught me to think in terms of "service above self."
Volunteering has rendered me culturally aware and has allowed me to grow as a person, especially while volunteering at Skagit Literacy in Westview Elementary School.  There I assist children with homework and endeavor to instill in them a love of reading while developing their English.  The goal of Skagit Literacy is self-sufficiency, the ability to navigate the English-speaking United States, hardly a conciliatory nation.  It was imperative for me to pause and contemplate the question:  Am I self0sufficient?  The irony of the situation was degrading:  How could I teach self-sufficiency when I was not self-sufficient myself?  I'm embarrassngly poor with directions, my mother still makes me three hot meals a day, and I am utterly disorganized.  The children I tutor while their parents are taking English classes may fail in school, but can cook for themselves.  They have almost no awareness of the war waging in Iraq and Afghanistan or other foreign affirs but have already acquired street smarts and a fairly broad knowledge of the "cholos" who inflicdt local havoc.
We live in a world based entirely on perceptions, and volunteering allows us to surmount these social barriers and learn from one another:  I encourage wscholastic achievement and reading while they teach me their cultural perspective and flaunt their primary language.  Spanish, the language in which their fluency I envy.  
Volunteerism is the epitome of the human race's willingness to unite against adversity, to work not through self-interest, but for the bettement of the world, and to see our philanthropic labors come to fruition.  It is through volunteerism that I have realized our purpose.
I want to thank the Youth Engaged in Service program for the life experience it has given me, the realizations it has allowed me to come to, and the opportunities it has created.  I am so grateful for the discovery of transcendence and purpose in volunteering at a primary site, something I will continue throughout my life.
McKenzie Templeton
YEs Team 2011