Monday, May 28, 2012

ASB'07 - Franklin, North Carolina

Remember the time I started this blog and told you that I would talk about my Alternative Spring Break trips so you could know why I began wanting to save the world? 

And then I only told you about one of them? Sorry about that...I must have gotten distracted once the projects started happening each month! we go on to my second Alternative Spring Break trip, which was in 2007.

Me and eight other college kids went to Franklin, North Carolina to help a poverty stricken area. Throughout the week we helped out in a local school, cleaned and organized a food pantry, and volunteered for cleaning and painting at different businesses around town. 

me&my class
Helping at the school was by far my favorite part. We were there every morning, and got to help with the same classroom each day which meant we got to know the kids. They all were of course adorable, but a lot of them were behind where they needed to be for their age. 

Not only were the classrooms over crowded, but a lot of the children had development problems due to the drug and alcohol use of their parents. There were also a lot of children whose family's spoke Spanish at home and were never really taught English until coming to school. The school and their teachers were barely surviving, and in desperate need of more funding for more teachers, tutors and space.

It was great to get to know the kids, but at the same time absolutely heart breaking. On top of most of them being behind because the school wasn't equipped to help them, a lot of them also had really bad lives at home. The teachers who had been there a while knew the homes these kids went back to at the end of the day, and the very little they were able to tell us was enough to make you want to cry.

I realized quickly that I could not save all of these kids, as much as I wanted to scoop them up and solve all of their problems. But I could be there for them that week. No matter what language a child speaks, or what stage they are at developmentally, a smile can change their world.

Another thing I learned on that trip, and still sticks with me today is something one of our group leaders, Kristi always said. No matter what we were doing, whether it was hiking up to an extra look out point or cleaning an extra area, her response was always "Sure! Why not?!" This was something my Grandpa Bruno always used to say too, but took on a whole new meaning to me that week. 

Here we were in this place, where we would never be again and with people we probably never would see again. So of course, why wouldn't we do everything we can? Why wouldn't we hike a little farther, or clean a little extra? We are here and willing and why not?

I came home from that trip thankful for the life and education I'd been blessed with, a new found respect for teachers and all that they do...and most importantly a determination to do everything I am capable of to change the world.  If you are in college, or even out of college and have the time to do any type of service/mission trip like this, please do it. It will change your life forever, for the better.

Be the change. Make the difference.  


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