So Much More than a Class By Lauren Vacca

The semester is sadly coming to an end and this can only mean projects meeting deadlines, saying goodbyes to beloved seniors, endless hours in the library and never ending laughs and good times with friends.  We go about each day trying to better ourselves and set the path that will lead us to our future and career along with making countless memories with the best friends around.  Each day inhabited by the almost same however never dull routine.

One thing worries me about the quest to build a respectable and meaningful life.  As well as another concept that comes to mind that has affected me tremendously post-ASB trip.  Both concepts bring magnitude to my everyday life and are things I think about in a new light after coming back from Phoenix.

The first thought being that there is almost as if there is a secret book that everyone has read that tells you what society says you should do with your life.  There never truly is a chapter in this intangible book saying, “Take time off and give back.”  It is always graduate college, get a job and work your way up the ladder while falling in love, getting married and having kids in between.  Having that unforgettable week out in Phoenix followed by great class discussions with Aaron and my class made me feel overwhelmed with empowerment and that I can take on the world.  I wanted to leave right then and there and give everything back and all of my time to erase indifference and help advocate the pure evilness of genocides.  I only could imagine my years to come being spent in Africa, or working with Invisible Children or organizations out in Sudan.  I could only imagine this because I knew that was what I had to do, I could not suppress my feelings that I felt while in Phoenix and from after meeting Jany and all the other amazing people.  However, fast forward almost two months later and it is hard to put those goals and dreams from in my mind to on paper.  I am filling my days with writing research papers, planning events, looking for internships and doing other things that I am “supposed” to be doing and not to mention fitting in time with friends and fun.  All these things that will help me get a job and graduate.  It is hard to at times to remember those amazingly catastrophic feelings that I felt while in Phoenix because I am so busy with so many other things.  This is frustrating beyond belief to me because I know that is no excuse.  I don’t want to be stupid and be so optimistic and actually not be realistic but then again if I am not optimistic I will push aside my over-powerful feelings.  It is a constant struggle that I am facing and I am learning how valuable time is in every sense.  I need to remember Koor’s words and remember to do what I WANT to do in this very moment and not worry about what everyone else thinks or says I should do.  In the long-run what it really  all comes down to at the end of the day is me making my own decisions and destiny to happiness.  I want to spend all of my time devoted to Erase Indifference but I know that I have other things I also have to spend time on.  While battling with this struggle I knew I had to call the best person I know, my Mom and have her help me sort things out.  Her conversation helped to remember all the feelings from Arizona and put things into perspective.  I am learning to not let time be my enemy but let it be my guider and positive tool.  Taking one day at a time will allow me to make my decision each day as to what I want to do.  Everything that leads up to this moment in time will give me the backbone, strive and motivation to live each day without any regrets and write my own chapters in my book.

The second point is the way I look at new people throughout my everyday life.  I truly feel blessed for meeting and spending a week with each and every one of my fellow ASB members.  I am so proud of each and everyone of them and feel so lucky to have been given even an ounce of insight and passion from Aaron.  I will forever have a special connection with these 12 individuals that I will not have even with my best friends.  I went into this class believing that I would be so moved and affected by the people I met on the trip but I never knew how inspired and moved I would be from the people I actually went on the trip with.  I have made great friendships that I am lucky for, and to think I thought I wouldn’t is something I have really been thinking a lot about.  I can’t go into a given situation feeling so comfortable because than I will never open myself up to things beyond my comfort zone of best friends and what I’m used to.  This can go even further as to opening my mind and heart to all people I encounter.  I can’t be so fast to write people off as not someone I can become close with, or as people that I won’t have any common ground with.  Everyone has his or her own story and every story deserves to be heard to learn from.  You can either learn from their lessons or learn from their teachings to improve yourself and form quality relationships.  You never know what you can learn from another person or the friendship you can make.  If you do not give people chances you are missing out on so many things that can come from a new relationship.  Just because an individual is not like you, didn’t grow up in America or speak your language well doesn’t mean that they can’t be a person that will touch your life in unimaginable ways.

After writing both these paragraphs I have learned that this trip and this class (which is so beyond any class I can ever dream of) have taught me so much more than book knowledge or wordly knowledge but it has also taught me about character and how to improve yourself internally not just mentally.  I have learned a lot about myself in so many ways both good and bad.  I have taken a step back and have been able to look at things with a new point of view and I am forever grateful for that.  I never knew how simply signing up for SCOM 318 on a whirlwind could have genuinely affected me in so many ways.  I am so proud of this class and the people in it.  Even though I am struggling with time and doing what I deep down want to do, I hope and pray that I can continuously use these memories and these experiences has a check point throughout future decisions and plans as a guideline on how to live my life.

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