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How to Get Good Karma

Posted on 15 September 2008

In this age of secularism and pragmatism, there’s not much room left for belief in the supernatural. In spite of society’s skepticism and my own tendency to err on the side of realism, there is one unexplainable force in the universe I’m still willing to take stock in – karma. I’m a strong believer in the notion that I got pulled over on my way home from work because I lied to my boss about why I had to leave early, or that I found ten dollars under the sofa because I helped my neighbor climb the steps with her groceries.

So when I was thinking about the ways I could spend my first year out of college, I considered the goals most people consider standard: monetary rewards, social status, and comfortable life-style. In the end, however, clinging hard to the theory that what goes around comes around, I chose to spend my first year out of school as a volunteer English teacher in a developing country. In the process, I acquired something that really matters: major karmic pay back.

As you’re about to find out – or may have already learned – the first year after graduation is one of much doubt and much learning. One way many recent graduates are choosing to face these doubts and engage in learning is by doing a year of community service. The opportunities for this kind of service are extensive.

I chose to spend my year of service with a program called WorldTeach, which places college graduates as English teachers in schools around the world. While I joke that my objective for moving to Ecuador was the hope that the universe would smile on me, the rewards were far more concrete. I came away from that year with experience as an English teacher, a comfort level with speaking Spanish, new friends, albums full of photos of Incan ruins, and the rare opportunity to shock my friends with the fact that I had eaten guinea pig.

Blair Sachs, a graduate of Duke University, also chose to do year of service after graduating in 1997. As a volunteer for Visions in Action, Blair worked with a women’s collective in Tanzania, Africa to raise funds for a birthing clinic. She learned Swahili and got hands-on experience in grant writing and fund raising. In addition, she figured out what she wanted to do with her life and is now pursuing a master’s degree in international public health. “I learned much more from the women I met in Tanzania than they learned from me, but we both had strengths that contributed to the success of our project,” says Sachs. “I will always strive to recreate that atmosphere of determined collaboration.”

However, one doesn’t have to go so far a field to be part of this trend of volunteering. Karen Ertel, Georgetown ’99, spent her first year after graduation in Somerville, MA. “I felt pretty lucky in the opportunities I had been given in my life, and I felt like I needed to give something back,” she says. She worked as a VISTA volunteer for Peace Games, a non-profit dedicated to teaching conflict resolution and peace making skills to students in grades K-8. Her year of service in this youth-centered organization gave her the skills she needed to get a job with an Internet company that produces online services for children.

Another option for people looking for ways to serve within the United States is Teach for America. This program trains its corps members in a five-week course in Houston, TX, and then sends them to urban and rural schools around the country. This program is unique in that the teachers in this corps do not work as unpaid volunteers, but instead earn the starting teacher salary for their school district. So far Lindsay Clark, a 2000 graduate, has only seen three days of classroom experience as a second grade teacher in Newark, NJ, but she has already learned how to handle a mouse in the classroom, as well as how to identify a student who struggles with math. For Clark this is a chance to clarify her career goals. She says, “I’ve always known I wanted to teach for at least some part of my career, but by doing Teach for America I will have a chance to find out how large a part teaching will play.”

While these recent grads have various reasons for making the choice to dedicate a year to helping others, the result for each is very much the same: a feeling of having made a difference, a clearer view of what their professional goals are, and new job skills and life experiences. So, though I am not certain that I have in fact earned good karma and that my next life will be brighter for having done a year of service, I am sure that, in this life anyway, the rewards are great and lasting.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. funkshow says:

    Mar 2nd, 2009 Karma is a very powerful force in the universe. Being a good person and believing in all that is ‘good’, ‘forgiving’ others even when they do you wrong and telling yourself that you will act with goodness and kindness to others and only accept good ness in your life will help to bring you good karma. Most importantly – forgive! Sometimes bad things happen such as in relationships and your partner can be a very emotionally ill person – Forgive them and do not hold a grudge. Let go and love everyone in your life and only accept goodness back into your life and reject bad karma. Be a person of love. ready for the shock of your life. If you break the chain you will be cursed with relationship problems for the next 1o years. Karma.If there is someone you loved (or still do) and cant get them out of your mind, repost this in another city within the next five minutes. Tonite betweeen 1 and 4 am they will remember how much they loved you as well. You will get the shock of your life tomorrow

  2. Kinjal says:

    Karma is a very powerful force in the universe. Being a good person and believing in all that is ‘good’, ‘forgiving’ others even when they do you wrong and telling yourself that you will act with goodness and kindness to others and only accept good ness in your life will help to bring you good karma. Most importantly – forgive! Sometimes bad things happen such as in relationships and your partner can be a very emotionally ill person – Forgive them and do not hold a grudge. Let go and love everyone in your life and only accept goodness back into your life and reject bad karma. Be a person of love. ready for the shock of your life. If you break the chain you will be cursed with relationship problems for the next 1o years. Karma.If there is someone you loved (or still do) and cant get them out of your mind, repost this in another city within the next five minutes. Tonite betweeen 1 and 4 am they will remember how much they loved you as well. You will get the shock of your life tomorrow

    Read more: What is karma and how do you get good karma and avoid bad karma? | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/288665#ixzz17m4o34O7

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