“Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Meet Derrika Hunt, this week’s feature volunteer. Hunt is just finishing up her volunteer stay with Omprakash Partner Parijat Academy in Guwahati, India and is passionate about living her life with the goal of eliminating poverty, violence and oppression.
Hunt’s stay with Parijat Academy has been a positive one. She was able to construct her own lesson plans and play with the underprivileged children whom Parijat Academy serves, all while learning the local language of Assamese.
Please enjoy our recent interview with Hunt.
Omprakash (Omp): What or who inspires you to volunteer?
Derrika Hunt (DH): What inspires me most is the opportunity to give to others. My mother raised me to understand the value of giving to others and I’ve channeled that energy into my own life. In my childhood I struggled with a lot of adversity [and] I fought to overcome the pangs of poverty. I lost both of my parents as a teenager and adopted my younger sister and became her caregiver while she was in high school. I went through a lot, but I always remember people taking time to help me [and] if it wasn’t for some of my teachers and mentors believing in me and pushing me [then] I would have become a victim of circumstance. I want to share the same gift with others that was given to me: Hope.
Omp: How do you feel like you are making a difference?
DH: Simply by putting positive and energy and love into the universe I feel like I’m making a difference. It is not my goal to change others with my service. It is my goal, however, to give selflessly and empower others through my giving. One of the most powerful things I can do for myself and the world is to volunteer because as I give to others I also give to myself. It restores my faith in humanity, because at the end of the day we all need each other. As I volunteer I learn so many lessons as I witness the power of giving, and more often than not, the people I serve end up making a difference in my life.
Omp: What words of advice would you give to prospective international volunteers?
DH: I would first thank other volunteers for being willing to give to others. I would also encourage [them] not to focus on what they are giving to others but to focus on what they can learn from the people they are serving. In my experience with international volunteering the communities I’ve served have given me so much more than I could ever give them; they have taught me the value of human connections. We may have different cultures and different background but human connections transcend those difference, if we let them. Invest yourself not only in your project but also in the people. Get to know them. Talk to them. Live your culture while you are serving them. You may be amazed at how much you can learn.