I am so excited to go on my 3rd and final ASB trip. We have a great team and and a great opportunity to help people in a region that desperately needs it. I am excited to help these people out and learn more about I culture I have never experienced. El Salvador is stricken by poverty and violence and I am curious to see the attitude of the people and how they feel about their community as well as how the team and me deal with this community. Furthermore, one of our projects will be to build a house that can be packed up and moved if necessary. I am intrigued by this concept and am interested to see what that finished product will be like. Despite the early flight, I am anxious to go on what I’m sure will be a great trip! Stay tuned to the ASB blog as well as our social media pages for updates!
The first non-travel day of ASB Texas was very relaxed, but still informative and fun. We began the day by visiting the Santa Ana wildlife refuge where we learned a lot about the local flora and fauna that is essentially unique to this area. After that, we had lunch and proceeded to our site for the first time this trip for an introductory session with the communications and volunteer director for LUPE, John Michael. We learned a lot about the mission of LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero) and were given a general idea of some of the activities we will be doing all week. To conclude, we went to Wendy’s and gave the manager a letter explaining the cheap immigrant labor behind their food, particularly the Florida tomatoes. It was a success! We then went to the beach for a bit, had dinner and then reflected on the day.
The introduction to what we will be doing at LUPE and tonight’s reflection got me very excited for this trip. I am curious to learn more about the different issues surrounding immigration reform and to help facilitate positive changes as much as I can. Furthermore, we had such a constructive and positive reflection on only the second day, so I am excited to reflect better with the group as there is more information to reflect on. In the short time I have been in Texas, I can already tell that this is going to be a great trip, and am excited to see it get better and better as the week goes on.
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” (César Chávez).
On the eve of my second ASB trip, I am very excited because I know how awesome ASB trips are. I am very excited to grow close to a new group of people and learn about a social issue that I have far less experience with than the one last year. For the Texas trip, the social issue is immigration reform, an issue which I have read a little about and am interested to apply my knowledge and facilitate positive and lasting change firsthand. I have also never been to Texas, so I am excited to do community service in a new place as well. For our pre-service event, we went to Philadelphia for midnight run, which was a great bonding experience for the members that could go and was a great way to help those less fortunate. I am looking forward to continuing that work and do more things like it in Texas. I am very excited to embark on another ASB trip and hopefully I can get as much out of it, if not more, than I did on the Virginia trip last year!
I cannot believe that this ASB trip is over, it felt like it just started. I had such a blast working with people with special needs again while getting close with an awesome group of people. Though I had previously worked with only kids with special needs, I learned that many of the methods that have helped me with them worked with older people with special needs, and that both experiences were equally rewarding. One of the best parts of the experience in Camp Baker was the connections I made with both the group of children we worked with in the afternoons and the group of adults we worked with in the mornings, and how each day I worked to make the connections stronger. The initial connections that I made with many of the campers, or clients, at Camp Baker were great, but seeing the connections deepen each day I worked with them was remarkable.
I think the strongest connections I made were with the children. One example was with a non-verbal child. Since in my program back home I worked with lower-functioning kids, most of whom were non-verbal, I felt drawn to this one non-verbal child who was running around the playground by himself (he was also adorable). He was so content running around with the same happy, playful expression on his face, but I really wanted to work with him and try and make a connection. By the end of the day, I had got him to give me a lot of hi-fives and one big goodbye hi-five before he left. But the next day when I saw him, his face lit up and he ran over to me and gave me a hug. Besides the fact that I made my strongest connection with him, the best part about the connection we had was that it was not the only one I made, but seeing his face light up when he remembered me the next day was one of the best parts of the trip.
Not only did I make some great connections with the clients, both children and adults, but I also made some great friendships with my teammates. The people whom I was already friendly with before the trip became closer friends with me, and the people who I knew less or not at all are now some of my close friends. And that is part of what ASB is about. It is not just about giving up a vacation of partying with your friends or hanging out with your family to participate in meaningful and rewarding community service opportunities in places that you may have never been before, but it is also about making friends with other individuals who made the same choice. I love ASB and I am so happy to have the opportunity to participate in one of the best service experiences of my life with a great group of students who are not just my classmates, but my friends.
Tomorrow, I will be heading to Chesterfield Virginia for my first ever ASB trip! I do not really know what to expect, but I am hoping that it is similar to the program that I volunteered for back home with special needs kids. All that I really know about this trip is that I cannot wait to go! And I need to pack, but that’s not what I’m blogging about. My team is awesome, and everyone seems just as excited as I am for a break that looks like it will be a perfect combination of fun and fulfilling. As for me, I am looking forward to continuing the work with special needs kids that I miss so much from my time back home. For one of our pre-service events, we went to a Best Buddies event near Valentine’s Day, which reminded me of the joy I get from helping kids with special needs. I have been looking forward to this trip all year, and cannot believe that it is finally time to leave for this amazing trip!