“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa
As a proud member of the Framingham State University community prior to the trip, it was enlightening to join such a motivated group of our students in Joplin and fortify that sense of pride. I was a last minute addition to the chaperones, and wasn’t sure what to expect. However from the one pre-trip meeting I attended to introduce myself to the initial meet up at Logan International, I could tell by the level of energy and enthusiasm that the adventure would be one for the books. At first glance, the sociable demeanor of all the students led me to believe that this was a group of friends. I was shocked that this group was pieced together through an application process, joining together a diverse group of strangers and acquaintances. Many of the students have posted that we became a family. The close quarters certainly encouraged and solidified a unique bond between us. I’m sure the lack of personal space, privacy, and individual free time contributed to the camaraderie. However, I am convinced it was more so the fact that we all share the same compassion for humanity. Connecting on such an emotional level and comforting each other throughout this experience revealed a sentiment and sense of vulnerability that normally gets pushed aside. We were able to take part in rebuilding a community and experience the results on a tangible and personal level. We saw the house get a fresh coat of paint, a beautiful new garden, and the whole exterior of the property became a home again. More importantly, in my opinion, we witnessed the gratitude of the entire community of Joplin through countless measures of appreciation, from the verbal thanks, to the free facilities that the wonderful “Animal” and friends let us utilize, to the monetary donation the “man in red” gave us that very first night. We all felt the gratefulness, and were humbled. I think all of us agreed that we were the fortunate ones and were thankful for the experience. Personally, I learned to look at the bigger picture. People say “don’t sweat the small stuff”, but it’s easy to forget what the small stuff is. It took a trip of this nature to remind me that my everyday frustrations might be considered a good day for others. I am blessed to have the life I live. I am alive and well with a roof over my head and clothes on my back. I work at a University that not only encourages its students to get out and explore and contribute, but its staff members as well. I cannot think of a better way to spend a week’s worth of my vacation time. I would like to thank the other 25 trip members for this once in a lifetime opportunity, for welcoming me at the last minute, for the support and many laughs on the trip, and for making me feel more connected to FSU.