What Am I Doing Here?

Photo at the Beginning

“Where are you headed?”

A classmate of mine asked as I packed my things with much haste after having been dismissed by our professor in my Microbiology Laboratory class.

“I have an internship in Katipunan.”

“Oh, what pharmaceutical company is that? Do you get paid?”

“No and it’s not related to pharmacy. It’s an international NGO called World Youth Alliance (WYA).”

“What are you doing there? I mean, what do you get from it?”

I wasn’t able to answer her anymore since I was in a real hurry. I pondered over her question during my almost one hour journey to the office and it really got me thinking.

What am I doing here?

It has been almost two months since I started my internship in the WYA Asia Pacific office. As a university student majoring in Industrial Pharmacy, most would advise against taking extra-curricular activities that would entail hours of additional work that has nothing to do with my course. Still, I chose to push through with this internship because I felt a strong and deep yearning for a sense of fulfillment which I don’t think I can ever get elsewhere.

I remember once in our Statistics class in junior year, we had an activity about the case of Tuberculosis Prevalence and Mortality Rate in the Philippines. We were deep in conversation about the technical aspects of the case, getting the median, the mode and the correlations, when I noticed in the footnote that the case was taken from the National Statistics Office. It dawned upon me: the data was real. Every dot, every line in the graph represented real human beings who either died or suffered from the disease. I looked at my groupmates and they were still engrossed in trying to solve the activity and getting the correct answer. I wondered whether they noticed it too. I wish they did.

For a while, I felt helpless and insignificant. I wanted to go out there and do something. It was then that I started searching for avenues through which I could help and contribute in my own way, in what little way I can. I didn’t want to let my status as an undergraduate hinder me – I set the limits. What I can or cannot do solely depends on me. And true to this belief, I found what I needed in WYA.

For years I’ve studied the human body, the different body systems and complex processes that make us up. I’ve memorized all enzymes, metabolic pathways, even the pathophysiology of the diseases and their respective treatment and medication. But something was lacking. I wanted to learn more about the other component that make up a human being – the inherent and inviolable dignity that each of us possess. There are other diseases of the human being that are far beyond the physical dimension, diseases that also need cure.

As what was discussed in our introductory session in our Track A training, Aristotle said:

“We must not listen to those who advise us “being men to think human thoughts, and being mortal to think mortal thoughts,’ but must put on immortality as much as is possible and strain every nerve to live according to that best part of us, which, being small in bulk, yet much more in its power and honor surpasses all else.”

As members of the society and the future leaders of this country, now more than ever, the youth should be taught of the importance of being proactive and responsible citizens. In whatever field we choose, we shouldn’t just think of getting the correct answer in class or passing the subject; we should feel the need to pass because of a larger purpose – for us to apply their knowledge and effort for the greater good.

To answer the question, it’s not what I am doing for WYA but what WYA is doing for me. World Youth Alliance taught me and is teaching me a lot of things I’ll never learn within the four walls of the classroom.

It has empowered me and made me see things with a wider perspective. I no longer think of me, but of we.

And honestly, what I get from this experience is much more than what I could ever ask for.

Photo at the End

By Diana Orolfo, a regional intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office.