Monday, March 21, 2011

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Gandhi

It felt strange as I crossed campus with snow falling from the sky and my sun burnt shoulders irritated by the heavy load in my backpack. Walking to class I looked around at th place I have spent the past three years, and yet it felt different. It may seem strange to say, yet I am homesick for Louisiana, a place I only experienced for one week. I am homesick for the houses we helped build and the community we were working in. I miss the sights, the people, the culture, the art, the sounds, the food, the hospitality, and the laid back attitude.

Friends and family continue to ask me how the trip went and what it was like. I search for words and somehow can only find phrases such as “incredible”, “amazing” and “it was a dream”. I shake my head as I walk away aggravated by my inability to put the experience into words. I think of what one of my favorite professors, Loretta Holloway, once said, “When you really love something you have nothing concrete to say.” She is absolutely correct. My deep love and passion about this trip inhibits me from forming complete sentences and logical paragraphs.

Although this was my second year participating in Alternative Spring Break, the trip was an entirely new experience. There is no doubt in my mind that I have been forever changed from this experience. I feel humbled yet empowered. My belief in change has only grown. It is evident to me now, with enough hard work, dedication, and cooperation one group can make a difference. Imagine all the good that could be done if everyone was determined to do so.  

Working with Habitat is an inspirational experience. I was lucky enough to be able to meet the woman of one of the house. Her name was Sharon and she was an absolute sweetheart. She came to the worksite with a smile plastered onto her face. Sharon thanked all of us for working on the house and said she would be out to work between her jobs as she could. She asked what kind of food we would like and the next day, true to her word she returned with some homemade Louisiana food. I have never tasted anything quite like it. As the Jambalaya and corn bread settled in my stomach it made its way through my soul. Sharon is a real person. These pieces of wood and nails would become her home and she would make many meals just like this one in this very spot. Being able to meet Sharon made it possible to imagine her living in her future home. This project suddenly became even more personal and critical.

I am once again in awe of ASB and the opportunities it provides students. The trip has an undeniable impact on the members. As I run into other members from the trip they seem to be having the same side-effects a huge smile, an inability to think of anything else, a desire to go back to Louisiana, yet most of all a deeper and brighter desire to help others. The members of this trip were nothing short of phenomenal and amazed me time and time again. It was an honor to share this experience with the 29 others that went on the trip. Every single individual was full of life, respect, cooperation, dedication, enthusiasm, passion, and warmth. These people are inspiring. I want to thank you all because my life has been improved simply by working with you. I see you all going on to do great things and make great changes.

ASB, you never let me down. Thank you for once again restoring faith in humanity, lending a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on, teaching the many ways in which service opens doors, motivating an entire group of people to act, and creating long-lasting and heartfelt bonds, and not to forget keeping us all laughing for a while to come. I could go on for days and yet still feel as if I didn't say enough. This trip and these people are life changing. 

Love always,
Kendra Sampson
a.k.a. Franklin :)

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