As I reflect on the previous week and admire the incredible, and countless, experiences we have encountered, I find myself acknowledging and common ground within them all. No matter what kind of task we were doing, whether it be through Catholic Charities, The Lost Boys Center, hanging out in the hostel, or exploring the city of Phoenix, we were constantly meeting incredible people.
Maybe it was the open mindedness we were feeling, or the susceptibility towards learning and growing that caused us to admire those around us.
Aaron had always told us that the Sudanese had a way of making everyone feel “at home”. From the moment we arrived at the Lost Boys Center, this was unbelievably evident. The laughter, laid back environment, and constant curiosity from one another made this experience full of warmth.
Similarly with Catholic Charities, a local agency that let us visit local refugee families from all of the world, we had the privilege of meeting people who truly impacted us. The wide variety of families we met, as well as workers from the organization, showed us how much this world has to offer.
In our college bubble of school, friends, and fun, we frequently lose sight of remembering how many different kinds of people and opportunities there are in the world. With that in mind, it is important for me to acknowledge to anyone reading this that many of the impactful people we encountered were people you would never think you would be able to learn so much from.
For example, on our second night in Arizona, we had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant after hiking for the day in Sedona. We had a long table with our whole group, including our tour guide from that day. A vortex-centric-earthy-thinker named Chad. We had learned tons of things ranging from aliens to rocks while hiking with him, and did not think anyone else from that day could make our heads spin (with questions and ideas) the way he did. We were proved wrong. Our waitress at the restaurant was a middle aged woman named Anne, with a beautiful Irish Accent. After hearing her first speak, we couldn’t help me ask where she was from. The conversation continued a while, until we learned that she had essentially left her business in Ireland to come work a laid back waitressing job for a year before beginning another business. Her goal was to enjoy life, and to take time every few years to make sure she is completely happy with her life.
Anne’s mindset help everyone on the trip mentally reevaluate their lives. She made us wonder what was of importance to us, and how we can achieve it. The path she took was so adventurous and courageous, that it inspired us to do the same.
Another main character in our week of inspiring people is that of the hostel manager, Geraldine. Her generosity towards us was tremendous. Aside from her kindness, she was truly interested in learning about all of us. She wanted to know why we were there, what we hoped to do, what we hoped to gain, and even be a part of our learning experience. She joined us for dinner on our last night with the Lost Boys, showing her true engagment and commitment to her job. I would always peak into the kitchen before going to bed, and see Geraldine having conversations we the students while setting up breakfast for the next morning. Seeing all of us be engaged with her and hear her many stories about traveling and running the hostel really opened our eyes to the experiences this world has to offer. Having her and the other manager praise our group for being good customers was truly rewarding as well. It is a pleasure to know that they enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed theirs.
Although I am not trying to shy away from the impact we felt from the refugees, my point is the we were feeling inspiration from people left and right. Everyone has their own personal struggles, and sometimes we forget to acknowledge that. As we continue this journey to erase indifference in our world, we am going to take with me the ideas sparked from the many impactful people on our trip. Togther they have created and shaped the way we view the world and the difference was can make within it.