I wanted to go on a volunteering experience with AIESEC. This young girl approached me while I was walking to the library and she asked me if I could change the world, where would I start and then smartly segwayed that into a conversation about me going abroad to contribute to the sustainable development goals. But she got me thinking: If I could change the world right now, where would I start?
It’s not a simple question. There is a lot that is wrong in the world. I don’t really know where I would start. Also why would I start anywhere? Who am I to think about changing the world? What could someone like me do to change the world?
And so she called me tomorrow, on my cell, that I politely gave to her. She was very nice, just like yesterday. One of those people with a beeming smile, energetic and extraverted, that just knows how to talk to people. After a quick conversation on the phone, I turned down this idea to go abroad. She insisted to know what the reason was. I started with ‘I can’t right now, I have to finish my studies, I don’t really have the time, I can’t really imagine going away anywhere right now, also there was the corona situation. What if I would get stuck in a foreign country without being able to return home?’
The conversation ended, but the thoughts didn’t. Who am I to even think about changing the world? But then again, if I’m not changing it, and if the person who sits next to me in class isn’t, than who is? Who is changing the world? Why is the world the way that it is and who makes it so? Why is there hunger, why is there poverty, why are women treated differently than men, why is there inequality, why are sea turtles endangered, why are our oceans dirty, why doesn’t everyone have access to quality education and worries about passing exams? Why don’t I think about this more often? And why does the girl who approached me on the hallway and excitedly told me all about Latin America and how I could help educate the populations about the importance of climate action so passionately believe in my contribution? Is she the one changing the world? One person at a time?
‘What can I do to change anything?‘ I guess it is exactly this concept that stops me from changing anything. I bought a glass bottle, and straws, I carry home-made lunch to Uni, I recycle. But at the same time, the internet says that the CO2 emission are rising, as are the sea levels. There are a lot of natural hazards that have happened over the last couple of years, that scientists say happened due to climate change. Besides that, I know a lot of people who live bellow the means, and I know about countries that don’t allow their daughters to go to school. I can’t possibly change that. Could I?
It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I sometimes think about if I was a businesswoman or a politician what I would do. I have these amazing ideas, that I don’t really write down or talk about with anyone, because why does it matter? No one cares to know what I think about the sea levels rising.
But I guess I would care to see more solidarity in the world. I also wouldn’t mind to eradicate plastic all together, so that no one could buy a plastic bag or bottle. I wouldn’t mind my world being better. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical of me to think how I would want my world to be better, but don’t think to do anything about it myself?
It comes down to believing in something more and that I could achieve it. Because in the end, why couldn’t I? All the politicians and businessmen were once students. Once upon a time they didn’t have much knowledge, but they obviously had a vision. They had the courage to go further and do more than what was expected of them. Why don’t I expect more from myself? And I don’t mean to finally start studying for an exam on time, I mean why don’t I expect from myself to make a contribution and to change the world? Why don’t I do more than necessary, go further?
In the end you only regret the chances you didn’t take. Yes, there would be many challenges if I decided to volunteer in a foreign country. But is that supposed to stop me? Starting University was a challenge, learning a new language was a challenge, sometimes calling the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment is a challenge and I have to write down what I would say, but I still did it. And yes, corona virus is a challenge. It was a mess I didn’t create and one I had no control over that took absolute control over my plans and my life. It came out of nowhere, so it could come again. But does that mean that I will stay at home, doing the necessary and never really experiencing anything, except a good cheese here and there?
And so I called the girl back and I’m going abroad with AIESEC. All the way to Columbia, further than I ever was.
Written by Marijana Nikolic