A Roller Coaster of a Journey

Since beginning this Honors course at USF to collect school supplies for children in Afghanistan, I feel like I have ridden every ride at an amusement park.

My decision to enroll in this class was like stepping onto Space Mountain for the first time.  I have admitted before that the war and the Middle East is very foreign to me. But here I was committing myself to something I had very little background knowledge on and I had absolutely no clue where the experience was going to take me or what the path would look like along the journey.

Sheikra at Busch Gardens Tampa. Photo: magazineusa.com

The first day of the course felt similar to climbing the steep assent on Sheikra. The coaster clicks along and seatbelt clicks for one last assurance that you have just enough protection to keep you safe from being ejected from the ride.  And then you find yourself staring directly down, you pause just long enough for you to question your decision, and as you start to take a deep breath the ride begins without warning.  I was definitely nervous listening to the assignments I was going to partake in. How was I going to raise school supplies, educate myself on the cause, spread awareness, and manage the fifty other things I have going on? But once the drop was over, and the support from the Professor and my classmates kept me safe, I was coasting along the track.

And just like that I began flying through the air on Soarin. I embarked on my first project and reached out to Delta Delta Delta at USF to partner with me in donating School Supplies for Afghanistan Children.  The first night I collected almost one shipping box full of supplies, and am getting more and more supplies each week.  I fly past buildings that would otherwise obstruct me on the ground and people are asking me questions about what specifically to give and for more information about the cause.  The feeling is great. And I am assured that when this ride ends, it will do so successfully.

Incredible Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure. Photo:Schnitzpopinov

This week I mailed out donor letters to friends and colleagues asking for their support. I feel like I am waiting on The Incredible Hulk, slowing ticking along the ascent like the beginning of all other rollercoasters, anticipating the moment that you unexpectedly shoot from 0 to 40 MPH in two seconds.  There are so many people I think would connect with this cause that I want to get everyone I know involved.  After this week I will be shot out of the cannon, running at high speeds, twisting and turning in ways I never anticipated. I am on a mission that will most definitely feel way too short when it comes to a close, and I have a feeling I will want to ride again.

And then I find myself getting on It’s A Small World. The title of this course is “Social Media, Social Change” and in this growing age of technology, the web is just another way of bringing us all closer together.  I have been honored to receive well sought after “retweets” on Twitter and have experienced others on Facebook sharing my stories to their friends.  Members of Tri Delta around the nation have told me that they stumbled across my blog on the web.  One piece of writing, more importantly one cause, can be viewed all over our small world after all.

But even though it sometimes feels like the world really may not be that large, I always have a reminder that it is. That somewhere far away we are changing the lives of young children.  Sure there are points where we must push ourselves outside our comfort zone, times that make us nervous, We are giving the gift of education to children living in hazardous zone of war that may otherwise grow up to know nothing except how to fight.  And just like that I am back on “It’s a Small World” hopefully making that gap between our two words just a little bit smaller.

Retired SMSgt Rex Temple handing out pens to school girls in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy: Rex Temple.

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, blog, School Supplies for Afghan Children, University of South Florida, USF Honors College and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Roller Coaster of a Journey

  1. Luke Heikkila says:

    Be proud of what you’re doing…the writings of you and your classmates have motivated me to start a school supply drive at work. My hope is that my colleagues at Twin Cities Public Television will generate at least 2 boxes of school supplies in advance of my trip to Afghanistan.

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