Take a look at the next installment of the Top Writers Challenge and dive into the story of Jasmiina Korpimaki, from AIESEC in Finland, who went through an experience that completely shifted her perspective in Athens, Greece.
Last summer I volunteered for a nonprofit association called Child’s Heart in Athens, Greece. The organization was established in 1983 by parents of children with congenital heart disease – one of the founding members was in fact my superior at the time. It still exists today for the purpose of helping Greek children who battle with different illnesses and provide them with longer lifespans. So far, the foundation has helped over 2000 children. Child’s Heart covers everything, from surgical operations and medical treatments to psychological support, but also accommodation and transportation expenses.
During the time I was there, most of the employees could not communicate fluently in English. My superior’s knowledge of the language was as advances as my knowledge of Greek – pretty limited. The others knew a bit more, but not enough to guide me through the experience. That’s exactly why I had a supervisor. Luckily, he could communicate fluently with me and he had even visited Finland during his exchange years as a student.
Everyone I met seemed so passionate about the cause they were working for. One of the things that really struck me then, and still does now, was finding out that one of the employees donated all of her wages for the cause of the foundation, in spite of the difficult economic situation she found herself in. It’s something that I remember to this day and thinking about it always gives me perspective. In Finland similar behavior would be unheard of. Many times, people choose their jobs because they pay the bills, not because they are fulfilling.
I am not sure if it was witnessing children in desperate need of surgery or seeing the passion in the people’s eyes even when they were facing difficult situations that made me rethink my purpose in life. For many years, I had imagined myself working in an international corporation as a marketing specialist or something similar. Who knows, fate might surprise me and maybe that’s still where I’ll end up.
The difference is that I now know what keeps me going, especially as part of an organization: the level of connection with the purpose of the team. I now have a desperate need to do something meaningful with my life and with my career. I do not think I would survive for long if I did not believe in the cause I was working for.
That’s exactly why AIESEC became a priority in my life. Why I feel connected to our purpose of achieving peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential and why I constantly working for making it happen for everyone, everywhere.3