This post originally appeared in e-Jewish Philanthropy on November 22, 2017.
By Raffaella Glasser
After over two months as a Repair the World fellow it still feels like yesterday that I sat at Capital Camps at the Repair the World national orientation surrounded by my fellow fellows. We each were embarking on our year of service with Repair the World. I was in awe of the people I was meeting – each fellow coming from across the country with an incredible set of skills, amazing experiences and drive for the work they were about to begin. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would fit into Repair. Would my skills and experiences prepare me for the year to come?
When our cohort arrived in Crown Heights Brooklyn in late August we began our three week orientation – an opportunity to get to know our neighborhood, ourselves as a group of fellows, and the context of the service work that we would soon begin. We were given the space to truly explore why we had become fellows and what we hoped to get out of our year together as the Repair the World New York team. It was during this time that I came to learn my fellow fellows’ passions and dreams for the year. Through their stories I came to understand my own as well.
As an environmental science major in college, I had long dreamed of playing a role in repairing our earth. When I graduated, I was overwhelmed with the thought of what it might take from society for that dream to become a reality. Environmental, social, racial, economic, education, food and gender reform. At the time it seemed like an impossible task. The world was becoming increasingly divided. Where would I begin? What was most important? What was most urgent? How could I even get involved? These questions were constantly on my mind as I began my first job in the working world.
After just a few months as a fellow I have learned that many other millennials felt the same way I did – frustrated with the lack of change in the world but unsure of how to make a difference.
Repair the World gives us an opportunity to make a tangible and important difference in communities by working alongside organizations which address the immediate, real pressing needs of the neighborhoods where we live and work. Repair the World staff, fellows, and volunteers never assume that we know what a community needs; rather we listen to what the community tells us and then take action with them. I have learned that making a difference doesn’t have to be overwhelming and that oftentimes some of the most powerful change occurs on a micro-level simply through making meaningful personal connections.
Local volunteering done right can move our society towards collectively repairing the world. By sparking crucial conversation and inspiring others to volunteer, we begin to create a world that is more just for all humans. By acting now and rooting our actions in Jewish values of justice, dignity, and humility, we can change the world for the better.
Our year of service is still just beginning – I eagerly look forward to the people we will engage and the service we will undertake. Indeed I hope to inspire others to fight for justice. As I learn and grow, I also have confidence that if we act together we can make authentic, positive change in our communities and across the world.
Raffaella Glasser is a fellow with Repair the World New York.