Thinking back to my first encounter with learning about genocides, brings me to my fifth grade class. This is where we read the diary of Anne Frank. I remember sitting in my little desk flabbergasted about the events that took place. How could this have had happened? How could this evil be allowed? I wanted to think the events were not true, that this story was fiction and that I could close the book and pretend like it never happened. From there on out I have always had an open heart and mind to learning about genocides and trying to understand how and why they occur.
This class has allowed me to see the other side to genocides, and has allowed me to be a small voice in telling the depth of how terrible yet occurring genocides are for all the sheltered minds that do not know anything that is happening with genocides. This class has allowed me to take a step further in not only understanding more about what is going on with genocides, and what they are but also after this next week, will allow first hand witnessing of the brave and precious souls of people who went through horrible evil acts.
Now, I have been to the Holocaust museum, and I have been to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, and although those were unbelievably moving and heart-wrenching experiences, I was not able to look into a survivor’s eyes, listen with my own ears their words or feel their pain, sorrow and passion. When we talk about in class what we are apprehensive about and or nervous about when meeting the refugees, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with excitement. Excitement however, that is very different than what I am used to. A lot of my friends are going to Mexico or Florida or on cruises and although I never would give up a fun in the sun trip with my friends, I think I will be coming back from Spring Break with the most rewarding and ever impressionable experience. Yes, I am sure my friends will have ridiculous stories and meet cool people and at first I was very jealous and second guessing my ASB trip. However, now, after eight weeks of preparation, supporting class members and a passionate professor I know that no number of piña coladas and sun rays will outshine the experience I am about to embark on. It will forever affect me, and I will bring their stories home to my friends and family to hopefully forever affect them as well. This is where my excitement comes in. Yes, I know the trip is going to be dark and depressing knowing what these refugees went through and knowing I can’t exactly do much to help. Yet, I have to go in there with an optimistic attitude. Change starts with one and is a rippling effect. Hopefully by my group going to the Lost Boys of Sudan center, we truly will never “leave” the center. We will have their stories impressed in our minds and hearts and then can’t not do anything about it. We become the center in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, where have you. The saddest and most evil of cruelties happened to these Lost Boys. Now I am not saying anything good is about their situation, but if their story affects one person, changes one person’s perspective for the better, they have made a difference.
I know if I was leaving for the tropics with my friends in a couple of days I would be beyond excited, but knowing the experience I am about to embark on makes me have a completely different sense of excitement that surpasses any fun in the sun excitement. An excitement that will lead to so much more and stay with me for a life time.