Posts Tagged ‘immersion’

To Love and Serve

by Chris Sullivan, Boston College High School

Image

Our sojourn for service in West Virginia of April vacation had a significant impact on my peers, the chaperones, as well as myself during and after our efforts.  Despite the fact that the trip was a school required trek, I felt that each one of us approached the trip with open minds and genuine hearts. Over six days in WV, we served the poor by working in soup kitchens.  We served the poor by helping organizations that recycle just about everything you can imagine and redistribute it to those in need all around WV. We served by tearing down and rebuilding homes that had been entirely flooded out. We learned about the struggles and injustices that the poor peoples of WV face each day.  I believe the combined contributions of our group touched those who were in need.   But what was most surprising was the way we all changed and progressed during our time spent in West Virginia.

Image

Through spending time with the people of West Virginia, we dispelled the previous stereotypes that we had of one another.  Everybody came to the realization that we are not all that different from one another.  We realized that being human unites us in a way we should be sure to consider while we live our lives.  We are all human and here to love and serve one another. This was the most remarkable characteristic of the trip for me. Everything else took the backseat as people began to help people solely because of this profound connection and calling. The  experience of breaking down and rebuilding houses in Logan, West Virginia was perhaps the greatest example. It was amazing to realize that at that very moment we all had the power to make a difference in this world.  The needs of this family were immense and we were called to be there to not only build a home, but to reform and build new relationships based on hope and love. Overall the trip took a physical and emotional toll on each and every one of the participants, myself included. However, undoubtedly it was a sincere act of kindness by a concrete troop of “men for others.”

Advertisements

Boston College Mingo County Service Immersion 3/4/12–3/9/12

Boston College is finishing up their week long immersion trip to Matewan, WV in Mingo County. Check out these two great blog entries written by BC students!

Lisa Bevilacqua: Wednesday

Before we arrived in Matewan, West Virginia, we did not know much about the Appalachian culture or how we would be spending our week. We knew that religion plays a big part in people’s lives here, and we got to experience this first-hand tonight when we attended a Bible study just down the road from the community center that has been our home for the past few days. We arrived late to the Bible study, but the half-hour we spent there had a big impact on us and our understanding of the religious values of the region. Everyone’s opinions were accepted in the service, and people were encouraged to ask questions and share any comments that came to mind during it. At the end of the service, we were lucky enough to join the community in song. Afterward, many of the people seated around us welcomed us and told us how glad they were that we had come to visit and take part in their Bible study. We were surprised that we were the ones being thanked, because we were so grateful to have been welcomed into such a private part of their lives. The experience gave us new insight into an aspect of the community that we hadn’t yet seen. Even though our faiths are slightly different, we found that we could still relate to the discussion and appreciate the messages that were being conveyed. We’ve really enjoyed all the time we’ve spent here in Matewan so far, but going to the Bible study helped us to truly understand the values of the Appalachian culture.

Melissa Donaher: Friday wrap-up

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect coming into the Matewan trip.  I had done a service trip in the past but it had not been very immersive and was more about ‘fixing” the community than being one with them.  This trip was truly one of solidarity, which allowed us to get to better understand both the inspiring and devastating aspects of the Appalachian culture.

One of my most distinct memories was talking with Smoothie on the first day about his life, especially hearing about all the struggles and violence he experienced in his youth and how they shaped his current outlook on the world.  He really wanted to impart some of his wisdom onto us, a common theme in talking with everyone we encountered.  What I took most from this experience was just learning about about the daily lives of Smoothie and the people he described.  It is one thing to listen to people talk about the Appalachia region or read about it but it a much more meaningful experience to  hear and see a firsthand account.   I know that Smoothie and all of his crazy stories are what will stick with me most when I return to my everyday life and inspire me to act with greater purpose and thought with regard to this region than I ever would have before coming to Matewan and meeting all these incredible people.