It is far too easy to forget about pressing issues when one is living one’s day-to-day life – a life filled with activities, friends, meetings, classes, and the like. The good that one had done weeks prior may simply be a faded image in the distance. But what about the lessons that had been learned and the realization that a change needed to be made?
Continuing to meet with the group and planning reorientation projects is essential in truly learning and turning those realizations into actions. I learned that education is necessary, consideration is always needed, and listening is one of the most important aspects of productive action. I learned that people make mistakes, but more importantly, people grow from them too. I learned that just because a man doesn’t have a roof over his head, he is not less of a human being. I learned that just because a woman depends on getting her meals from the back of a van or the basement of an old church doesn’t mean her life is any less important. I learned these things. But I don’t want these messages to fade and become less meaningful. I learned these things. But it’s time for others to learn them too.
I miss D.C. immensely. I miss the group of friends I spent the week with, the kids we worked with day to day, the city skyline at night, getting lost in the vans, and having lengthy, late night discussions that made me feel like change was necessary, and very, very possible. The only thing I don’t miss from that week is probably having to shower in a box.
I had wondered before I left for the trip how this trip might compare with the mission trips to El Salvador I have taken in the past five years. What was different was not so much even the trip itself, but the way others received my experience upon my return home. When I told people that I went on an ASB trip to Washington, D.C. to learn about and combat hunger and homelessness, the only thing they asked me was, “How was it?” This question was not what I expected. When I came back from El Salvador, not only did I get that question, but I got, “What did you do there?”
The reason this is so significant I think is not because I went to a different country, but because I think people think that they already know a lot about hunger and homelessness issues. This is what I thought, too, before I went on the trip. To me, this is really awful. I learned so much from being in D.C., and while before I had thought that maybe the needs of those in other countries are probably more because they didn’t have as sturdy a government as we do, now I think that maybe domestic issues are just as important to address. Some parts of our work in Washington hit a little too close to home for me, and had I not been on the trip I would not have learned of all the ways that I can be a better member of my society. It also propelled me to want to educate others on this issue in a big way. I’m hoping our reorientation project will do just that.