The summer before my freshman year of high school I went on a mission trip with my church to Mobile, Alabama. It was a part of Catholic Heart Workcamp. No joke, this camp changed my life. For one week we were paired with other students from around the country and spent the day helping those in need. We painted houses, raked, gardened, fixed what was broken, and spent time forming relationships with the residents we helped, people who used to be like us but had lost a lot due to an illness or unforeseen circumstance.
What I remember most about that week was day one. My group had been paired up and went through a meet and greet the night before. This was our first full day together, however, so we were sort of at that awkward point where we weren’t totally comfortable yet. Out of all the assignments we could have gotten that involved manual labor…and we were stuck packing school supplies. For eight hours we counted pencils and pens and packed them and other school supplies in boxes to be sent to various needy schools in the area. It was tedious work, but these children really needed it.
Those eight hours cooped up in a room all day actually helped our group grow stronger and closer. We warmed up quickly with each other and had a great time.
More than that, though, taking on this tedious task actually helped make me humble. I had been to a private Catholic grammar school for eight years of my life and was about to start at a private Catholic high school. I was extremely lucky to be given the chance for such a wonderful education. And here were children in Alabama that barely had enough school supplies to even get an education. It made me extremely appreciative of my life.
I never knew the six years later I would be tackling the same task once again, albeit not in eight hours but in an entire college spring semester. Once again, in this instance, I became the student. Although I have not met these children in Afghanistan that I am helping, just as I did not meet the children I was helping in Alabama, they have taught me more than enough. They have taught me how to make every bit count. They have taught me how to appreciate the things that I have before they are gone. They have taught me to enjoy my education and cherish it for all that it’s worth. They have taught me to work hard to succeed even though everything might seem like it is against me at points.
I am extremely blessed to be able to once again take on this task of changing children’s lives. I am extremely proud of my class for the hard work they have done. We packed and shipped 45 boxes this past week. The exciting thing is, we have an entire storage closet full of stuff still to go.