“Men and Women for Others."
Everyone who attends or has attended BC knows that those words are more than just a mission statement. Those words welcome new students to BC in the fall and encourage them to fulfill that proposed mission in their four years. However, is it possible that encouragement to contribute to the community through service work can turn into pressure to get involved for the purpose of fitting in? Is the reputation of BC students as service-oriented and motivated to give back to the community a result of their own desires, or do they simply feel obligated to volunteer?
Although I have only been on campus for a little over a month, I can vouch for the sincerity I have observed in the motivations of the majority of students who devote their time to service organizations on and off campus.
BC is more than an academic institution. Service is one of the core missions of the university, and the majority of individuals who worked hard enough to be admitted here understand the importance of giving back to others. When students willingly sacrifice their time despite academic stress and other commitments to participate in the selective application process required to join a service group at BC, they are most likely driven by a genuine desire to give back.
Whether your initial motivations to volunteer are rooted in your genuine interest in giving back or not, it is quite possible and rather common that initial apathy towards volunteering can develop into enjoyment and maybe even become a newfound passion.
Sure, the pressure to volunteer is heightened at BC. Service work is a major aspect of the long-established identity of the university and it often seems like everyone else is doing it. However, due to the time set aside each week to reflect on the volunteering experience that takes place in most service clubs like 4Boston and BC Bigs, volunteering at BC can transform a person’s outlook on giving back to their community despite any initial disingenuous motivation.
In my own experience, I found it difficult throughout high school to discern whether my own motivations to do service work or any other extracurricular activity stemmed from my genuine convictions or from the pressure to fit into a mold.
During my freshman year of high school I found myself attempting every sport, club, and volunteering opportunity available. My actions seemed to be driven by the expectation to volunteer and remain active for the sake of adding to the long list of extracurriculars that, when combined with a good GPA, would consequentially get me into a good college.
However, I soon realized that there was far more value in doing the few things I was passionate about rather than the many things that simply fulfilled an expectation I had placed on myself. In my sophomore year of high school when I began focusing on my passions and filtering through the clubs or activities I lacked motivation for, I became genuinely committed to volunteer opportunities, clubs, and sports that were important to me.
When I was able to dedicate my efforts to volunteering in a few select ways, I discovered that I began to make a bigger difference in the lives of the people I was helping. A transformation took place in me from feeling obligated to volunteer to feeling genuinely motivated to contribute to the community.
Volunteering, especially at BC, is a major commitment that requires passion and genuine contribution. Instead of succumbing to the pressures or expectations that may be set forth by your peers, it is important to try to forge your own path, a path in which you volunteer or join an organization because it is your passion, and because you want to discover what your part may be in the larger community.
“Men and Women for Others” definitely encourages service, but there is more to being a man or woman for others than going out once a week and showing up at your placement. At its core, the notion of being “Men and Women for Others” requires the daily, genuine desire to contribute to the BC community as well as the community beyond BC. Stay motivated, be a man or woman for others, whatever that may mean to you, and most importantly, never give in to the pressure to fit a certain mold of what you are supposed to do here and who you are supposed to be.