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Home » Writing » Shorts/Lists » A Difference of One

A Difference of One


This spring break, some students went on a trip to do community service in an underdeveloped country. And you know what? Although I didn’t go with them, I am so glad they went.

The group, for which I never signed up and never even read the pamphlet they handed me, spent ten days teaching English in Bangladesh. Needless to say, they made unforgettable friendships and it was a formative experience for all, or at least I assume, even though I don’t know anyone who went and therefore obviously haven’t talked to them about it.

People say, “One person can’t make a difference.” Well, I’d beg to differ, knowing that there are some people who take the time to do these kinds of things (probably because they’re not busy trying to catch up on season two of Bored to Death). And sure, one person who’s not me might not be able to make that big a dent. But what if there were a thousand people (not one of whom is me) all working together toward one goal, whether it be developing a source of clean drinking water or improving literacy rates? (I’m not clear on which it is since I was playing pool in the TD basement during the info session.)

And anyway, working towards goals like these always starts with smaller, more realistic steps. Like, what if one of them just changes one other person’s life? Then it would all be worth it. It’s always amazed me how a complete stranger can have so much in common with another complete stranger in Bangladesh, especially since I don’t know if they had an interpreter and it seems pretty unlikely that any of them would speak Bengali. It seems like a common humanity really unites these people with the people they help.

This past vacation, these students did great things in Bangladesh. I can only hope that many more students follow their lead, going places and doing things while I sleep in and watch movies. It doesn’t even have to be Bangladesh. They can go to Uzbekistan or Mali. Wherever! I’m sure either of those places could use their help. The point is, if other people who aren’t me make just a small sacrifice for a cause that’s greater than themselves, they might be able to change this sad old world for the better.

—N. Weinstein

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