Let’s Get It Started

I hope to gain perspective as a result of this course and trip. It wasn’t until a class I had last semester that I learned sometimes I just need to step back, listen, observe, and truly try to understand where other people are coming from. Active listening is a task that is much harder than it sounds, but I know trying it will have an impact on this experience. There are a lot of topics that people talk about and don’t have all the facts or enough knowledge to be able to have a well-rounded opinion or conversation. People just jump in to add their two cents when in reality all they saw was a news clip a week ago that was a minute long and suddenly advanced to them an expert on the topic. Refugee resettlement is one of those topics, I wouldn’t have known the difference between a refugee or a displaced person if someone would have asked me before last week, or even what exactly the Lost Boys of Sudan went through to get to the U.S. or other country they were relocated to. I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever be able to understand because after seeing a video on part of it, I’ll never know that feeling of being displaced from home. As a result of this trip I want to be able to add something meaningful to the conversations about refugee resettlement and actually know what I’m talking about; in addition to somehow help.

I hope to keep a positive attitude and excitement for the trip and the course. Some of the things we have seen and talked about in class are extremely sad and emotionally draining. It’s hard to think that there is so much hate and genocide in the world and I’m not aware of it, but maybe that’s because I didn’t want to be aware of it. I think it’s one of those things most people think if they ignore, it’ll go away and that’s not true. When I start to think about it though I want to ask how are we supposed to help people that have been through so much? Our biggest problems right now are passing tests, or making sure we get just the right amount of work-life balance so we can succeed in school and our social lives. While some people don’t know if they are going to live to see the next day because they don’t have food or shelter. How does one relate to that? Or try to understand? I did a 30-hour famine with my church one time, but we got to eat after the 30 hours! Walking cross-country, like the Lost Boys of Sudan, to get to safety doesn’t always offer a golden ticket at the end. This learning experience is going to be a lot to take in and reflect on.

The question “What is good service learning and what does it look like,” is going to probably be a question I’m asking myself everyday this semester because it can be a loaded question. What more could I have done? Am I doing this right? Can I handle this? What are they gaining from this? What am I gaining from this? Did I make any sort of impact? Questions are always running through my head when I’m in class or actually doing the service learning. But then again when I sit back after the service-learning project is over I know good service learning is a win-win situation for both parties, but sometimes it’s hard to think I helped when all I did was clean something or put something together. How does one measure the impact of a task? To me something could be small, but then to someone else it was huge! My mind is everywhere with this question, because at the end of the day everyone says every little bit counts.

I feel like I could ramble on and on about what I hope to get from this class and trip or what I am unsure of because it’s such a large thing to wrap my head around. It’s hard to start writing about one thought and keep it because then I think of tons of different perspectives and “what if, or maybe this” situations come to mind. When researching and learning more about this topic I think I have to take a step back for a minute and just let everything sink in.

-Kerry

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