Big Citizenship- The Book

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I am fond of reading. I like to read books whenever I am free. On the day of Martin Luther King Junior, I went to the office of a non for profit organization, ENGAGE. I along with some of my friends talked about the contribution and the path that this great man had shown us.  I wanted to borrow a book from the office and that is when my eyes fell over this particular book named ‘Big Citizenship’.

Big Citizenship was a book that introduced the concept of service year for the younger generation and a new concept of volunteerism. This book was written by a socialist and Harvard Law school graduate Mr. Alan Khazei.

When I heard of the phase big citizenship, I imagined for a while. What is big citizenship? I had vague ideas and definitions of this term circling around my brain. And more questions like how did a law graduate from Harvard school came to be a social entrepreneur and how did he began his journey?

I began reading the book as I had no other answers for all those questions that were revolving around my brain.

All of a sudden, I was introduced to the concept of city year, paid volunteering, year of community service and plenty more.

City Year was a non for profit organization that was founded by him and his colleague from Harvard Business School. It was founded in the 1980s. This organization worked for the community with the members that are willing to sacrifice their certain period of time for serving the community. They began initially with a 3 month program for volunteering.

At the beginning of the program, the private sectors were the one that sponsored the program. The budget was large since the beginning. And because they were trustable and accountable, the organizations were sure that the money would be used wisely for what they had donated for. As the time passed, the size of the city year increased.

Throughout the book, I can see how Mr. Alan Khazei has been able to create good relationships with every individuals attached to city year. Moreover, He made sure that he had motivated every individual in the corp. From his book, one can easily see the relations with social entrepreneurs and the senators like Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, GW Bush, and the CEO of Timberland, Mr. Jeff Swartz, who has sponsored the organization since its beginning.

One thing that Mr. Alan made sure was that every one that came to visit the city year would be infected by the vision of this very organization. Not only this, but he made some excellent contributions to found Americorps, a governmental body that controlled all the non for profit and provided budget to them. Over the years, he has made the concept of one year at service more realistic and the number of individuals participating in these kinds of programs has not stopped to increase.

Big Citizenship is a book that presents a very unique and a great idea of Contribution, social service or volunteerism. This book demonstrates the phenomenon of marginal gain precisely. Each and every week or months later, the social entrepreneur does not end up looking for the supporters, youth volunteers and moreover the sponsors. To be more precise, GRIT I would call for his goal to make volunteering a national program involving maximum of the youths throughout the world. After his Graduation to the present time, He has been working on his purpose as a marathon, slow but steady.

Being a good citizen is not all that one can do. Instead one can be a Big Citizen. A citizen that not only follows the constitution, pay tax run its house but also serve his nation, his community and help bring unity and peace through volunteering and community service. Big citizenship is all about being responsible for what our community wants us to do, Weather it is at grass root level like cleaning the public places or it is to the maximum level like making orphanage homes or teaching children. It is all about how much of a good citizen can you be rather than just being a citizen of a country. Big citizenship is about being a responsible global citizen that acts for the good of the world to the maximum possibility he/she possess. Even a tiny bit of a responsibility can bring a great change and better world.

Position: Sophomore, The University of Toledo

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