Toeing the line of philanthropy as a college student organization is always tough. As regular full-time students, it’s difficult to find the spare time to make a tangible and sustainable impact (and successfully execute missions abroad) without looking like a group of clueless voluntourists out to get their next Facebook profile with starving children. It’s even more difficult to undertake philanthropic initiatives abroad without facing the not-unfounded criticism of why we serve communities thousands of miles away while our own backyard faces homelessness, starvation, and abject poverty. At the risk of patting ourselves on the back, I can safely say that I have never been prouder of USC Project RISHI than when it commits itself to philanthropy in the Los Angeles area. By breaking out of our bubble of country-club-esque privilege and serving those in need around us, we hope to better serve our community and further Project RISHI’s legacy of serving those in need.
We partnered with our fellow charity Kicks for Kids on a cloudy Sunday morning to play soccer and recreational sports with autistic underprivileged children from South Los Angeles, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as we high-fived them at the end of an exhausting but immensely fulfilling two hours exemplifies why we at Project RISHI are so dedicated to our work all through the year. We asked some fellow RISHI members to describe the experience in one word and explain what the experience meant to them.
USC Project RISHI continues to uphold its mission of serving those abroad as well as those in our own backyard by working with various community organizations both at USC and in Los Angeles. We not only regularly work with Kicks for Kids but also volunteer with Monday Night Mission on Skid Row (with the largest homeless population in the United States) multiple times a week, and we at USCPR hope to expand our philanthropic repertoire even more as we progress throughout the year.