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Today for You, Tomorrow for Me

Justina Yu

This has become one of the most important ideas in my life and holds so much weight. One and a half weeks of volunteering with a grassroots organization named AYNI in Alto de los More has taught me that help is not a one-way street. Like AYNI's motto states, you give as much as you can to those in need and one day, your efforts will be repaid. The people in Altos truly demonstrate this principle through their endless generosity and consideration for those around them. When we handed out snacks to the children, no matter how excited or hungry they were, I would always see them wrap up a large portion of their food and bring it home to their families. When someone needed help, the villagers never failed to rise up to the occasion to contribute whatever they could. Even at the movie theater, when some children ate popcorn and drank soda for the first time in their lives, many of them offered their snacks to me after seeing that I had none left. How can people with so little have such big hearts and be willing to give everything they have to help others? My objective for going on this volunteer trip was to help improve the quality of life in the village; even if it meant improving the life of just one person. However, I feel that I took more out of this trip than I could have ever given. At the age of 16, I had to learn things that the children of Altos had known since birth because they were raised in a community full of hope and generosity rather than a world full of hatred and competition. Since birth, the need to rise above our peers has been exaggerated in the first world because we are always competing for the next best thing. People living in the first world have a disregard for those around them in terms of emotions and needs- they always put themselves first in order to be at the top. Having this experience has made me realize that there are bigger things in life than just being "successful". Be kind. Be considerate. Educate yourself about the world. A little help goes a long way.

Justina Yu

After opening my eyes to the world outside my world, I can say that I am happier and my life has become much richer because I am not stuck in the little bubble that I called my "comfort zone." It never ceases to amaze me how one and a half weeks in a foreign culture has changed my life so much. I never knew that people from such humble origins could turn out to be some of the most charitable people that I would ever meet. As privileged citizens who are more than capable of giving back to the world, we are so ignorant to the basics in life such as happiness, generosity, and the human condition. Yes, the people of Altos live in inadequate conditions but I do not pity or look down upon these people because they are just as capable, if not more, than I am. They know that they have to make the best of their situations in order to break out of the cycle and that complaining will get them nowhere. It’s hard to describe how I feel but I saw pain and struggle in the eyes of the people. However, the joy, hope, and overwhelming amount of love that I also saw overpowered everything that the people of Altos had to overcome. This gives me the strength to fight my own battles even though now, they seem very insignificant compared to what the villagers are fighting through. I am very grateful that I was able to experience the world in such a pure way. The village of Alto de los More has brought me a lot of happiness because I can see that in a world full of negativity, there are still people who are striving to improve themselves and their community together.

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Justina Yu

2015 - 2016- National Championships Junior Individual Gold Medallist
2016- 10th World Poomsae Championships Junior Individual Top 12
2016- AYNI