My job is pretty self-explanatory. I’m an intern for the Youth Outreach team, so I try to get the attention of students all around the world and get them invested in hunger issues.
But sometimes, I wonder about the best way to approach my target audience. I’m reaching out to my peers, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Here’s my problem: do I focus on the compassionate, information-thirsty aspect of active youths, or do I appeal to superficiality?
I’m talking about ambition, The Resume Factor.
Since I was in high school, I’ve been a really active student because it was presented to me as the road to success. When it comes down to it, a fatter resume gives you an edge for scholarships. All around me, my peers joined different organizations, regardless of their interest in the causes.
It comes down to this question: Are you doing good if your motivations are self-serving?
We’ve all been told the same thing: “It looks good on a resume.” So we flood our schedules in the hopes that we’ll get into a good college. Once we’re there, we jump at opportunities that might get us a job somewhere down the road.
Young people look toward future benefits – what we need to consider are our actions’ current effects. The hot keywords on resumes are volunteer, intern, mentor, and leader. But before one assumes such a role, it’s important to remember what’s at the core of these positions.
Jobs are based on values, missions, and objectives.
Here at WFP, we work to save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies, prepare for emergencies, restore and rebuild lives after emergencies, reduce chronic hunger and undernutrition everywhere, and strengthen the capacity of countries to reduce hunger.
WFP’s objectives say nothing about boosting resumes, though I guess that happens by default.
And that’s how it should work. Get involved in good causes because they mean something to you, otherwise, why bother? There’s no reason to voluntarily dedicate time to something in which you’re not truly invested.
Not everyone ignores values, but I’ve seen my fair share of disgraces to youth activism – the guy who starts a local chapter of a humanitarian organization to win an award, the student who breaks rules to secure a prestigious campus position, the girls who join an important committee because it adds up well on paper.
As someone acutely aware of this trend, I’m conflicted in the way I should do my job. I can aim to engage those who are truly passionate about the issues I represent, or I can broaden my target. I can include those who might be seduced by the call to take action and the place it might hold under the “activities” header on their resumes.
It’s quite a conundrum. There’s some appeal to drawing in support from as many people as possible, despite their various motivations.
But I think it’s more important to have a smaller base of supporters with an understanding of values and compassion. This is hunger we’re talking about – food is something we all take for granted, and donators should see the connection between their support and what it means.
Care that a child dies every six seconds from hunger. Sympathize with the schoolchildren who are lucky if they get one meal a day, allowing them to focus on their education. The motivation to help others should stem from what it does for beneficiaries, not what it looks like on paper.
I want as many people to join the fight against hunger and raise awareness of the issues it causes around the world. At the same time, I hope there’s a bit of passion in WFP’s followers, not passivity.
Christine DiGangi is from Chicago and is interning with WFP Youth Outreach. She loves running, chocolate, and fighting hunger.