Team SWAMPED had another successful day at the Nike Missile Base location of the Everglades. Yesterday was the last day at this location, working alongside Mava and her partner, John, who joined us as well. Our second half of service on Thursday and Friday will be at Biscayne National Park.
Our service included cutting down willow trees and spraying them with an herbicide that killed any future growth of these plants. The willow trees that we cut in this area were an invasive species. After the national park redirected the water source away from this area of the Everglades, this invasive plant began to grow and take over the plants that naturally grew here. To fix this problem, we removed these plants to allow for plants that were not invasive to grow in this area.
We also talked a lot about wilderness and what that meant. We decided that wilderness does not have to mean untouched by humans. The Everglades can be wilderness even though it has to be kept up by humans to ensure that invasive species do not take over.
Tomorrow we will be headed to Biscayne National Park to do work regarding sea turtles!
While in Chicago, I was opened up to a lot of new experiences that I never was currently aware of. We started the week off with a little bit of sightseeing in Chicago, which helped us bond as a group. The positivity that we gained as a group touring the city in freezing temperatures only increased as the week went on.
On Monday, our group visited the three campuses of Maryville Academy. We joined the children at the different campuses in a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. with a prayer service where we joined together in song. Here, we met a lot of the children at Maryville Academy, and even got to talk to some of the boys about their future plans. It was a good introduction to Maryville Academy, and allowed us to view where we would be helping out the rest of the week.
The rest of the week continued with us returned to both the Madden and Des Plaines campuses, where we got to know some of the kids better. We started at Madden, and played card games with some of the girls with children. This was a rewarding experience because we heard more about what some of the girls were going through. I also participated in some crafts with some of the girls, while others in my group helped repaint a room in the house. The craft we did was decorating tiles that would be hung on the wall, and it allowed us to interact with the girls creatively and see what quotes they were passionate about. At first, it took some of the girls a little bit of time to warm up to us, but eventually they were very open with us. One of the staff at the Madden home mentioned how one of the girls never talked much and she was really happy that she was opening up to us so much.
We finished the week at the boys campus, Des Plaines. A group of us helped organize things in the gold warehouse and organize the Thrift Store, while others played basketball with some of the boys. Even though I was not working hands on with the boys, I knew that the work that I was doing was going to help the boys on the campus. Overall the week was very rewarding and I was able to learn a lot about the foster care system in Chicago. I’m hoping that I can continue to bring what I learned in Chicago back to Easton and share what I learned about my social issue with people at Lafayette College.