The Power of the Pencil

Based on the title, you might think this post is about writing, but it’s not.

I first learned the real power of the pencil a few years ago while I was teaching on a small island in Korea. One of my friends organized a fundraising event for an orphanage in India. As part of the fundraiser, she encouraged her fellow English teachers to create a lesson about the children in the orphanage, share it with their students, and then hold a “Bring a Pencil to School” day.

You see, the children in Jeju, who sit in wired classrooms with abundant materials and supplies, who carelessly throw partially used pencils in the trash, have no inkling what it’s like for students in other parts of the world who live without such luxuries.

The idea behind the fundraiser was this: One small act, like a child donating a pencil, could have a greater positive impact on the world. And it worked. The fundraiser was a huge success. The orphanage in India received loads of pencils as well as a sizable monetary donation from the Jeju expat community. More importantly, it raised awareness and gave everyone involved, children and adults alike, a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation.

Recently, this beautiful idea has touched other parts of the world as well. A former member of the Jeju community, who is now living and teaching in Hong Kong, decided to hold another donation day. But this time, the pencils were sent to Bangladesh where I had the privilege of delivering them to an elementary school in a small village.

Now, most of the students at this particular school aren’t orphans, but their learning conditions are incredibly basic, and their families are very poor, so purchasing even one pencil can be a burden. But thanks to one teacher and her class in Hong Kong, that burden has been relieved, and an entire school of Bangladeshi children are positively beaming with joy.

See how powerful a simple pencil can be?

Now it’s your turn! Please share your ideas about small acts with big impact.

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