This past week in Jamaica was better and more rewarding than I could have imagined. It being my second service trip there, I was able to open myself up further and gain even greater insights than I did the first time. I didn't think it was possible and that is why I am honestly so in awe of what I have experienced and learned. This trip was life changing for me.
I'm back home now, drinking Blue Mountain coffee and reflecting upon the important take-home messages that I will remember for the rest of my life. Often, I am told that I am an optimist and see life through a "peachy" lens. I want everybody to be happy all the time and conflict truly gets to me emotionally. This is a part of my personality so I am thankful for the person I am and am not going to say that these traits are necessarily bad. However, I think it is important to notice that this may be a form of "oppression Novocain". Through this trip, I have learned that it is important to feel the pain of others and become aware that this pain exists. I can't continue to have a view that solely concentrates on what I personally see and experience every day. There are bigger issues in the world, from a community level to a global level, that need attention. This is where doing service, versus helping, becomes important. When you help others, you are doing a task for them just for the sake of doing it or even to make you feel better. However, when you serve others, you understand and care about their pain, ask questions about why they may be in pain, and reflect upon the work you are doing for them in order to get something out of it for yourself and expand your knowledge of the state of the world around you. In other words, you are decreasing the amount of "oppression Novocain" you experience and are facing reality. I plan to work towards this more from now and ask the question why? more often during service.
I don't believe I've been one to make quick judgments about people but when I think about it that may be because the majority of the people I am surrounded by on a daily basis are a lot like me. We may not all come from the same backgrounds but we are currently all on a college campus in New Jersey working on our education. The differences among us in this setting aren't that significant compared to the cultural differences I observed in Jamaica. There were a few times that I had to step back and take a moment to consciously remind myself that the culture there is significantly different and I can't be too quick to judge someone for what they do or how they act. There are probably reasons for them doing so that I am not even aware of. I was there for one week and observed actions that occurred with a lifetime of prior experiences that I have no idea about. How could I possibly judge that person? Moving forward, I am going to be more conscious of this and have a more open mind towards people that I don't know anything about because although we all come from different backgrounds and have different views of the world, we are all humans just doing the best that we can.
My goals from this point forward are to commit more of my time to service in my local community and work towards understanding more about the issues that exist. I would eventually like to choose a cause or two that I am interested in serving throughout the rest of my life so I can become highly educated in that specific issue. I have already planned to attend an informational meeting about human trafficking at a local church in a few weeks and I hope to learn more about the reality of the situation and see what I can do about it. I would like to become a conscientious citizen and live a life with concern for others and the world I live in, on a community and global level, every day. Thank you Jamaica for giving me these things that I will take with me throughout my entire life!