Student Volunteer: Akthanat Phokatuwanon
University: Chulalongkorn University
Event: Asia Student Leadership Conference 2013, July 19-22, 2013
It was a pleasant surprise to be nominated by Operation Smile Thailand to participate in the Asia Student
Leadership Conference 2013 or ASLC 2013 held in Singapore during July 19th to 22nd. It was my first international flight for me and also a first visit to Singapore. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that by giving back to the community it would be this rewarding and lead to an opportunity for me to meet such genuinely nice friends abroad.
In the end I realized that this was not just another fun trip abroad or a camp where we would come together to share ideas but a trip that would make me question where I was in life. This trip was a life-changer for me, it was like I took a step outside myself and questioned my path and my goals.
Seeing how other students worked on Operation Smile activities made me reflect upon how I went about my tasks and goals. Seeing their drive and passion triggered me to think of how much time I wasted on just hanging around and studying for school. I made a decision to come back to persuade my younger schoolmates to give back to the community and continue to do charity work. I will tell them about my experience and what I learned at the conference. More importantly, I will go back to motivate them and tell them not give up as you will not what you are capable of until you try. I will find a way to explain to my former schoolmates that there are so many problems in life, but not to be overwhelmed by them and it’s not necessary to solve them all. Also another important point is that just because you are not aware of a problem does not mean the problem does not exist. All that we can do is to change ourselves to make a difference.
I hope that I can go back and make a difference. I believe that the basis of being happy is by doing what we like. I found out how rewarding it is to help others less fortunate and I will continue to volunteer for Operation Smile. I may not have achieved much yet, but I surely will someday.