Our Student Ambassador reflects on her service work
Amanda Nguyen is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Law and Justice. She has been serving on Retriever Essentials Student Leadership Board since September 2019.
Retriever Essentials has inspired me to not only be aware of what things are, but to also remain rooted in a vision of how things could be. The current prevalence of food insecurity at UMBC often goes unnoticed, except by those who directly experience and endure its significant impacts. Retriever Essentials is the could be--it is the catalyst, the advocate, and the active doer of positive change in our community. Working with this remarkable organization has remolded my understanding of compassion and what it truly means to value community engagement.
The matter of food insecurity occurs in universities across the nation, but it was something that I was completely oblivious to. Because it is not something that I have personally experienced, I was admittedly ignorant to its implications on my fellow peers and the surrounding community. For those who have never encountered the veritable threat of hunger or lack of sufficient food supply, it is understandable that the idea of such an issue may seem trivial. However, it is in fact a broader reflection of social injustice and deeply indicative of food inequity.
My perspective when I first began volunteering with Retriever Essentials was naive, as it stemmed from a place of sympathy and “savior-like” intention. Although that later blossomed into understanding and action, it only did so through weekly collaboration with the Retriever Essentials team and involvement in something much greater than myself. Since my first semester working with Retriever Essentials, and reflecting on my second semester, my overall experience has been nothing short of humbling. Retriever Essentials captures the reality, while also reaching towards possibility. Its mission of proactive service is the future of our community. Having the opportunity to be a part of its growth has been overwhelmingly grounding--I have never been filled to the brim with such gratitude and an unwavering faith in humanity. The leaders and volunteers are simultaneously the framework and moving parts on which this organization operates. It is because of their selfless dedication that pioneering changes are being implemented at UMBC. And they are the people who inspire me to want to be better, to do more, and to believe in the goodness of what this world can be. As Retriever Essentials continues to grow, my hopes for this upcoming semester lie in the people of UMBC (myself included). I hope that we take the time to truly look at others, rather than glance at them in casual passing. Let’s take the initiative to look at each other as if we understand that every human being has loved and lost, and is much more than what meets the eye. Every individual is a conglomeration of a million intangible parts and layers. Everyone who passes you is overflowing with their own hopes, fears, and dreams. So let’s reconnect and foster our curiosity of others, rather than our judgement of them: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.”