A Reflection on Servant Leadership

An interview with Henah Parikh, Co-Director of Student Volunteer Council

Q: How did you become involved with Student Volunteer Council?

Winter Wishes was the very first event that I attended. As a freshman, I did not know about SVC but heard about Winter Wishes at an involvement fair and it was something I was really interested. Watching them hand out the gifts to the kids was really touching, and I began to cry. Someone pulled me aside letting me know I would be a good fit for SVC because I was really invested the event, and truly cared about giving back to the community. I applied not knowing what to expect but got it and was really excited. So I became service day coordinator for 5 semesters – basically planned weekly once a week service events for 25 students for example, going to Elijah’s promise, packaging meals, hanging out with the kids in the hospital. By the time I was a junior I realized being a co-director would be a good fit because I was passionate about service. And now I’m HERE!

Q: What would you say is your favorite part of dedicating your time to servant leadership?

I really like the family feeling from the people I work with. We are really into community so we are always supporting one another and all of our events. We always try really hard to be invested and separating ourselves from our phones. We have a purpose behind all the work we do so the mindset and the strength in our bonds that hold us together when we work together are awesome. Being able to see the impact you are making and being able to name the community partners in New Brunswick and knowing who each other are – you can say what they do and why they do it.

Q: Do you have a particular memory or event that you hold dearest to you?

Winter Wishes is hands down my favorite event that we do every year. I’ve been moved when I have been to Elijah’s Promise because you can have a conversation with the people you are serving as opposed to looking down on them and treating them as unequals. Hearing their stories and that one on one interaction is amazing.

Q: What do you think is the most important characteristic or trait to have as a servant leader?

Open-mindedness. Knowing that even the smallest gestures are making a difference and its doesnt have to be a grand gesture. Anyone can do it and Anyone can make a change. It doesn’t have to be at one specific time or place. Being Flexible is really important because many times you think you are doing one thing but that will change based on their needs.

Q: How does your organization function?

Coordinators do 3 office hours – gives everyone enough time to get their stuff done within the office.

Every Friday there is a weekly meeting (same place, same time). Every other week we do a training where we have Soupervan come in, Time manament lectures, Professional headshots, things of that nature. Heavy volunteer event weeks we will discuss important information delegating events.

Q: How important do you think Reflection is and why?

Reflection is integral to the whole idea of service. You can do something and never realize the impact or think about it deeper then just doing it. You may not get the chance to process or synthesize your experience. Alot of times reflection is when I notice the change it makes in my life and what I want to do. It is hard to reflect in the moment (what is the bigger meaning to my actions) – sitting back and realizing allows you to understand the impact your work – even if it is filling envelopes – has on your community.

Q: What are words of advice you would give to your predecessor?

GET invovled. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try new things. Alot of the best things that ever happened to me in college are because I took the risk, not knowing where it would lead me. I went for something without thinking or knowing what would come out of it. Try everything while you can. Don’t wish your days away – even when you wish the semester is over – enjoy every moment you have!

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