Reflection #8

Have you gone on an international volunteer trip before?

If so, how did it compare with the criticisms you encountered this week? What is your reaction to that?

If not, are you interested in doing international service in the future? Why or why not? If so, how will you approach it? What will you look for? Did this class’s articles, videos, and discussions influence your thinking?

I have not yet had the opportunity of being involved with an international volunteer trip. I started volunteer work in the beginning of my high school career. Although I spent many hours volunteering at a couple of hospitals in Oklahoma, I also spent several hours volunteering for food drives and other events throughout the past few years. Volunteering has definitely helped me become more giving and empathetic towards others; thus, doing international service in the future does grabs my interest. It is a bit more difficult to find international volunteer opportunities during my study abroad journeys since I am not familiar with the countries and their people. I have to admit that I am more drawn to volunteer programs rather than charities, because I can be sure that my time spent volunteering will have a positive impact on someone’s life. I have been looking online for some volunteer programs in South Korea; however, I have yet to find a program that grabs my attention. Most of such organizations do not have much description about the program goals, thus leading me to think that these organizations may not be reliable—I may be wrong, but it is much easier to decide on the program quality once I get to South Korea. If I cannot find a reliable program by next summer, I will ask my CESL partner, who is from South Korea, to help me find some volunteer opportunities during my stay. Hopefully he will be able to introduce me to some reliable organizations.

Reflection #7

What do you think of Peter Singer’s arguments? Do you feel obligated to help those in need? Why or why not? If so, what are you going to do about it? If not, how would you support your reasoning to someone who sided with Singer? (The video to Peter Singer’s TED Talk can be found below). 

During the video, I was introduced to what Singer thought was the most effective way of helping others: by donating at least a certain percentage of one’s income to different organizations such as Give Well, the Life You Can Save, and Giving What You Can. After our class debate about whether or not Singer’s argument is an effective way of helping people, it was hard for me to agree with him. Although he presented great statistics that showed the positive impact of such organizations such as saving 5.8 million lives by the Gates Foundation, his argument revolved mainly around donating money. As he stated in the video, effective altruism is about combining the head and the heart; however, his emphasis excluded the important role that the heart plays in giving. Not all problems can be solved by money as every person has different problems and needs. He also made his audience feel a sense of guilt for having two kidneys for example. No person is obligated to give away their body parts just because others have done that. It is absolutely wrong to make others feel guilty over this issue and to turn around and say that the only way to make-up for it is to donate money. I think that if an individual can support themselves financially and live a healthy life-style without cutting back on essential needs, it is best to be selfless and give back to those in need. I do not support Singer’s argument completely, but I do plan to give back to those in need in any way I am able, whether it is by donating money or volunteering.