The “Looking UP” project was a success at UC Irvine this past week. Although I was initially skeptical of how the students would respond, I was met with a special surprise when I saw people taking the time to participate in our project and share the people and things that inspire them.
Six Saturdays worth of work had culminated into a week-long project during which students filled out blanks on paper arrows with statements such as “_____ gives me hope,” “_____ saved my life,” “_____ inspires me,” “_____ is my hero,” and pinned them up on an over-sized bulletin board for the community to see.
Nouns ranged from friends and family to on-campus organizations and dance teams, to celebrities, pets, significant others, to ideas such as hip-hop and humanity.
It was refreshing to learn about what motivates the people around me.
I expected to feel the same emotion I had felt when I hosted the “Before I Die” wall at UC Irvine earlier this year. I didn’t.
Although the emotion I felt was still overwhelming, it didn’t stem from just hosting the Looking UP project.
The overwhelming emotion largely stemmed from the idea that I had the privilege to work with current UCI students in their second and third years of college. I had the honor of being a part of their growth and influencing how they view their future decisions.
Although we got to learn about the strangers who participated in our project, we also realized our own capabilities. It was humbling to hear from the team that my ambition and actions motivate them to work harder.
I believe that they will feel more compelled to work harder and take action to achieve their goals. I know they’re capable of it.
Through this project, I had the honor of mentoring younger students, providing them with an opportunity to enrich the lives of others, and learning to develop myself as a leader and as a wholesome a person.
This is what I live for. The opportunity to help individuals realize their significance and their potential.