Life after Phoenix by Julieann

I never thought life after our spring break trip to Phoenix would be as hard as it is. On Sunday when we arrived back to JMU at 5 o’clock in the morning I was sure I was going to hop in the shower and pass out until mid-Sunday afternoon. This did not happen. Instead I looked over the pictures I took while on the trip, I tweeted about how much I missed our group and the amazing people we had spent the past week with, and texted a few group members to make sure they got home alright or silly inside jokes I entertained myself with while trying to calm myself down to go to sleep. When I finally semi-calmed my mind for a second to close my eyes I started having dreams reminiscing about my time in Phoenix. I vividly saw Ayom and Achan reading from their notebooks, I heard Jany encouraging us hiking up the mountain, I heard Mohammed talking about his beautiful family. While normally I would have woken up walked a few laps around my apartment to calm down, this was not an option for me that night. I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to see and hear more moments from the most amazing week I had witnessed.

Life after Phoenix has been hard. I miss the company of my group! I miss everyone’s different quirks that made our group unique. I miss having something to say and having 12 other people around constantly to share my thoughts with. I miss reflecting about our day and feelings, this is something I didn’t think I would miss. But, the thing I miss the most are the amazing, unique, genuine, and inspirational people that I met while on the trip. We only worked with some of these people for a few hours but, in those hours these people have inspired me more then any lecture, class, or situation I have experienced to date. These people’s stories made me realize that this is YOUR life. You need to live it how YOU want to. YOU have the power to make it or break it.

Prior to our trip we read many articles about privilege and whiteness. While I believed this was an actual concern I did not know how much it was going to inspire and motivate me. Yes, there are many privileged people in this world, especially at our fine university. Some may look at this as a bad thing, hindering our ability to look beyond our own experiences and gives us special privilege over others. But after this experience, I have realized that our whiteness presents us with so much power to change things we find to be wrong.  We have the ability to create an overwhelming amount of awareness. We did by creating this blog, Twitter, email, and to get coverage by different JMU social media outlets. We have the ability to make big changes and gain support for these changes. We also did this by the amount of readership on our blog and support from JMU faculty.

The words I have written so far don’t even begin to describe how amazing our trip was. I could probably write another 15 (Bits stop drinking 15 Coke Zeros in 20 minutes) paragraphs to try to convey how awesome it was but I still wouldn’t be able to describe my feelings about the trip. In the predictable conversation with good friends or acquaintances in class, you know they are going to ask about your break. I could give them every single detail but I have come to the conclusion that they ask this question to be nice and they don’t really care what you did. This experience was mine! I am the only one who knows how I felt before, during, and after the trip.  This trip was something that I will remember forever (I know that sounds so cliché but it’s so hard to describe it any other way).

Our lives at JMU are predictable, comfortable, and lavish in comparison to those the same age around the world. We like our little bubble of house parties, familiar faces, and routine that we follow every day. While this is what we are used to it is something I have realized that I don’t want to do with my life. I want to be challenged. I want to be put in different situations that I am not used to. I also want to constantly reassess my life and if what I am doing actually makes me happy. This trip has made me so happy and fulfilled but also wanting more.

I want to thank all of the wonderful inspirational people we met along the way, my group for being there and experiencing this trip together, and the master-mind behind it all- Aaron Noland (gotcha, don’t turn red!). The amount of passion in this group of people is overwhelming and something I look up to now and in the future.

Peace. Love. Phoenix.

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