For me, it has always been about creating change.
As a middle schooler, I went to a leadership summit called WE Day,
an event the nonprofit Free the Children’s founders Craig and Mark Kielburger hosted.
As cliché as it is, they, along with numerous other speakers, left me with one inspirational message: to create change.
I explored various options, but none worked for me.
Armed with the Kielburgers’ message, I became an active volunteer in freshman year. Working on for all these various causes were great, but there was still that spirit that dwelled inside of me, nagging at me to stop contributing to and start creating change.
After giving it thought, I found the root problem.
In sophomore year, the epiphany came. Although I knew positive changes were occurring as a result of my actions, I could not witness the change myself. I was never passionate about the volunteering I did, merely thinking it was a basic citizen’s obligations. This toxic mindset took away the essence of volunteer work: enjoyment.
The solution was simple, spread everybody’s unique passions.
Instead of creating an organization dedicated to a niche cause, I created a platform on which students can express and spread their passions, whether it be sports, speech and debate, politics, or anything else. SMYLE was created as a way to connect volunteers to their communities, and each one of our initiatives reflects a different part of our organization’s diverse pool of students.
Making the world better, one small step at a time.
After beginning the first initiative, FitForFun, I finally began to see the tangible changes I was making to the local community, which finally silenced that part of nagging inside. I grew to know the parents and befriend the children, working tirelessly to make fun volunteering opportunities for everyone. That’s why if you have an idea for an initiative that does not currently exist, we promise help you create and expand it.
Why speech and debate?
By: David Feng (Founding President)
Growing up in a public middle school, I never had the exposure to the opportunities many private schools offered. In eighth grade, my mother sent me to a speech and debate class because apparently, I loved talking. I was initially opposed to the idea, but after my first tournament, I was hooked. At Harker, I continued speech and debate for 3 years now, always putting my best foot forward and trying to be the best speaker that I can be.
In sophomore year, as I was reflecting on my middle school experience, I realized that one thing I missed was a proper speech and debate team. It would have been so much easier to have mentors guide me through that world instead of figuring everything out myself, so I wanted to give back to the community I grew up in and provide those opportunities for middle schoolers -- something I lacked at that age.