Jiefei Yuan's Blog

My 22nd Birthday Pledge

Today was my 22nd birthday, and as a birthday present to myself and many others, I pledged $50 to 3 students and 3 projects on Givology. As a first time user of the giving functions on the site, I must admit I was quite overwhelmed and humbled by the overall experience. As I scrolled down the Giving page, the faces of young children appeared one-by-one, each of them pleading for the five ten dollar bills in my wallet. The promising faces invariably caught my attention yet at the same time confused my focus. Where do I even begin to pick and choose? How does one determine the opportunity costs of giving to one student as opposed to another student? Reading the student profiles made my decision even more challenging. Fifty dollars was simply not enough to help all those who need my help.

Finally, after many rounds of indecisiveness and deep sighs of resignation, I settled on adopting three students (Guangen Shen (???), Mwesigwa Benon, and Ranjita Sampange) and three projects (Light for Learning, More for Migrant Kids (?????????), and WSF Village Teacher Training (??????)). I then proceeded to write letters to three very different students with different personalities, different circumstances, different hobbies, and different aspirations. Yet, in my view they all had something in common, that is their love for learning and their drive to achieve something that will make tomorrow a better day.

As for me, my opportunity cost of choosing to pledge the $50 on Givology instead of on any new material possession, i.e. a new pair of shoes, is actually quite low considering the ROI generated by this $50 investment cannot be quantitatively measured or even qualitatively described in words.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see the updates from the students and projects in which I’ve invested my time, money, and words before I can gauge the palpable impact of my birthday investment.

In the meantime, I encourage every one out there to make a similar pledge. This is what Givology’s mission – learning to give, giving to learn – is all about. On days like our birthdays when we have almost come to expect the act of giving as the ultimate gift from which we derive joy and satisfaction, we should take this time to remind ourselves of what “giving” really means, for giving is not simply a one-way street; it is most inspiring when it is directly reciprocated and actively pursued.

On my 22nd birthday, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will forgo the benefits of owning a new pair of shoes to giving to learn in more meaningful ways.

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