Being With

Main Article Content

Joy Liu


Every year in the few weeks before summer vacation, the question that fills the spacebetween the mad dash of term papers and final exams is “What are you doing this summer?” Thestandard responses range from “I’ll be in New York doing investment banking”to “I’m spendingmy summer in DC as an intern on Capitol Hill” or “I’ll be in Vietnam building schools”. When Iwas asked this question, I also had my stock answer. Last summer it was “I’ll be in Kenyaresearching childhood immunizations”. This summer it’s“I’ll be in India working on neonatalmortality”. Sometimes I embellish it with more details about the Non-GovernmentalOrganization that I was working with or the amount of interviewing that I will have to do. Othertimes, I don’t. Either way, most of the time, my response produces a reaction of vagueadmiration followed by some enthusiastic words about what a great time I will have or howselfless I am. Often this will be complemented with a casual, off-handed, “it’s so great thatyou’re out to save theworld”. On these occasions, I try to work up the courage to say what Ireally feel, that I don’t have the capacity to save anyone. More than anything else, I am goingthere to learn. Somehow, that answer sounds lazy compared to the prestigious internshipsorresearch projects that are described by my peers. As a result, I usually nod and mumblesomething along the lines of “Not really” before turning the topic to what they will be doingwithout much additional thought about the nature of the conversation that just transpired.

Article Details

How to Cite
Liu, J. (2012). Being With. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 1, 1–5.
Reflective Essays