How has your internship influenced your (near) future school, career, or personal plans?
I was fortunate to grow up in a community that is quite literally built from philanthropy. When I moved to Ann Arbor in the fifth grade, my parents signed me up for the YVS program, the Youth Volunteer Corps, run from the Ann Arbor YMCA. The program involved travelling throughout Washtenaw County to provide service work in areas of need. Through YVS I was able to gain a hands-on tour through Ann Arbor and surrounding communities, interact with locals and hear their sentiments about their neighborhoods and local politics. During a tour through downtown Ann Arbor, I was introduced to the Clements Library, Angell Hall, Shapiro Library, Hatcher Library, the State Theatre, and the Michigan Union, among others – all buildings donated by individuals who loved Ann Arbor. These acts of serving for a purpose were integral experiences in my personal development: they paved the foundation of my values. As I got older, I started volunteering at Alpha House with my mother twice a week. I participated in programs at the Neutral Zone, many of which were also funded by the Ann Arbor Community Foundation.
Switching the Perspective
My intrinsic interest in philanthropy was paved through empathy from a child extending to my adult years. I am blessed to come from a privileged family, where I have never starved, never been beaten, never been undermined or unsafe. Growing up, I would see homeless individuals parked in the street or surrounding downtown areas. What struck me most was the look on their faces – a look of beaten defiance. This made my privilege feel glaring and sickening. Every time I was solicited for money on the street as a child, I rarely had money to give away, but I felt an overpowering urge to help. I didn’t know how at that time. I just knew that the world wasn’t fair for everyone.
D-SIP: Refined Philanthropy
I came into the D-SIP program with a scattered view on Philanthropy. I had been a recipient of Philanthropy, and I had experience and a passion to help solve the problems that philanthropy can ameliorate, but I didn’t know how it was done. D-SIP provided me an avenue to explore how development functions to reallocate resources. Using a strategic approach, one can appeal to the values of a potential donor, and solicit a gift that could create a student center, build a homeless shelter, or endow a scholarship. Even so, philanthropy is in its early stages of development. As the profession becomes more unified, more knowledgeable, and more aware of its impact, the possibilities for real social and cultural reform rise. Philanthropy is not a direct answer to the world’s problems, but it is a means to cultivating those solutions.
Giving it All Back
I wouldn’t be much without the help of others. I am crafted from the combined support from my parents, teachers, siblings, friends, relatives, coaches, and community members. I wouldn’t be getting this higher education without the thousands of contributions made to the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor. I stand on the shoulders of so many.
It is a fundamental duty of mine to repay everyone and everything that has given me the platform to be happy and successful. It is fitting in the circle of philanthropy that when I age, I will in turn become a supporting figure for my family, friends, and community. Vic Strecher mentions that death is what gives motivation in life. I only have so many years on this Earth, but at the end of the day, if I know that I have truly made a positive difference in the world, I will have done my duty.