Thoughts from Allison

Allison, 2009 North Church Youth Trip

In the past 2 weeks I’ve experienced the amazing and life-changing. When reflecting over the ups and downs of the trip, I realized the similar ebb and flow of perspective I received. I don’t mean to sound naive or sheltered, but my view of the world before last week may have been just that. I knew what a map of the world looked like and I had an idea of how many people lived in that world, though now that seems insignificant. Previously I had never been outside of the U.S. and that definitely defined my view of the world. I knew about other cultures from school, the media, stories, etc. however, having a picture of a map in your head and knowing bits and pieces of random cultures is so miniscule that writing this is almost embarrassing.

The first week of this trip expanded how I thought of the world to a point that was almost unimaginable. I saw extreme (and I mean extreme!) poverty, I heard HIV positive patients moaning with pain in hospital beds, I spent time in a land and culture different from anything else I knew. Suddenly, instead of picturing a globe I saw millions of tiny villages struggling for survival. This idea of the world was a bit overwhelming and hard to handle, but the experience didn’t end there…

Yesterday, we attended a celebration of the launching of a school lunch program through the UMOJA project; also in attendance were teachers, community leaders, students, and parents/guardians. During this ceremony my view of the world shrank, but not back to what it was before, in fact it reached its most mature point yet. I was then able to see the unity (what UMOJA means) across the cultures and I could see how people are the same across the world. I saw the little kids getting restless and throwing leaves at the kid in front of them, just like kids throwing spitwads in school. I saw a parent attempting to be subtle (but failing) as he texted, and I could only picture an American dad whipping out his blackberry at a PTA meeting. And once I started noticing these examples, they just kept appearing. I now understand that the world is more than maps and statistics, and more than each tiny community struggling to survive but truly the world is a place of unity where we are all truly just like one another once we manage to see past the divisions and barriers we ourselves create.