20 Years of buildOn:A Student in California Learns that Every Small ActBenefits the Community

The following was contributed by California buildOn student Pwintphyu Nandar to the website moemaka.org. Nandar is passionate about community service, and he communicates buildOn’s mission with emotional personal anecdotes. Thanks for sharing this, Nandar!

It has been twenty years of building a movement for buildOn. Twenty years of weekends spent doing community service. Twenty years of summers spent in third-world countries helping build schools. That is what twenty years have been like for the students who were and are a part of buildOn. And in those twenty years, approximately 852,775 hours have been served; 64,546 have been educated globally; 427 schools have been built in 9 developing countries; and 1,611,707 lives have been touched.

buildOn, as described by its website, is not a charity but rather a movement. It is an afterschool activity that encourages its members to participate in community service, during the weekend. During the summer, a few students have been picked from schools that buildOn has become a part of, to go to third-world countries to help build schools.

In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, buildOn is a part of 16 schools. In the Bay Area, high school graduation rates are descending and buildOn is working to change that. The movement not only exposes them to service around their community, but also to the lack of education and schools in third world countries. This inspires them to do many things, including to stay in school.

The community service takes place in the vicinity of the school. Members of may go help out the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, once a week. buildOn students also have the chance to interact with other buildOn members from schools beside their own. The activities they take part in are not only fun, but rewarding for both the community and themselves. Such activities include creek cleanups, PB&J sandwich projects, tree-planting, and even volunteering at science fairs. buildOn students gain service hours, friends, and skills.

I joined buildOn, this school year, as a means to involve myself in service in my community. My first project for buildOn was Oakland’s Back to School BBQ. It was an event put on to give away school supplies to children who could not afford it, with funducational booths on the side. Working in the art booth was an amazing experience. I was able to interact with kids and even make new friends. Being exposed to this kind of service made me want to do more.

The community services always vary. The next project I went to was a creek cleanup. It involved pulling weeds and other invasive species that took over a creek. I remember getting a splinter but enjoying it all the same. I have done many community services for buildOn since then and I have had a lot of fun doing each and every one. However, I had the most fun participating in the PB&J sandwich project in San Francisco. The goal was to pass out sandwiches to people in need. I met a variety of people and had a great deal of fun while passing out sandwiches.

[pullquote]No matter how small your actions are…your community will benefit.[/pullquote]

From being a part of buildOn, I have learned that no matter how small your actions are towards your community, as long as they are supportive for the members of the community, they will benefit from it.

buildOn is a very important movement for its members and the people. The exposure they give is very significant in their lives. Look at the numbers above. Give a few more years, and the numbers will grow. More hours will be served. More children will be educated. More schools will be built in more developing countries, and more lives will be touched. How will you buildOn?