YSEALI PFP – Volunteering in Washington DC

During my YSEALI PFP fellowship, I had the opportunity to spend my day volunteering at Carpe Librum, used bookstore in downtown Washington, D.C. What’s interesting from this bookstore is the profit would be used to fund its parent organization named “Turning the Page”, which activities revolve around improvement of D.C. students learning environments through their parent engagement programs.

My responsibility for the day is to structure and organize books in business & economic section to ease navigation of potential buyer. Because there’re so many books piled up randomly, it is hard for potential buyer to the title collection. Simple as it heard, it’s really daunting that we spent half day to organize everything.

During my volunteering here, I found that it’s an interesting model of social movement. And in essence, it should be possible to replicate this model in our home society. On top of it, there’re several things that I think would be interesting to be noted here, which crystalize the essence of NGO and volunteering:

1. Connection with society
You know what’s cool with having a shop? Opportunity to meet with all range of people! Wherever it is, whatever it is, NGO always depend on people to support their movement. Hence, connection with people is essential. Warm and passionate volunteer at the cashier could be the main factor to attract strong supports for volunteer & donation.

2. Kindred spirits
There’re hundred books donated, and not just any book, many of them are high quality books. Some of the big names like freakonomic and built to last also found among them. I found it interesting that people have this helping heart where they really donate quality books for a cause.

3. Virtue could be brought from simple act
Last take away is that, even simple act could bring virtue. However small it is, act of virtue in everyday life is worthy.


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