Like a band of Lilliputians, the band of campers converged on my legs, toppling my six foot frame. Amid the triumphant cackles came the voice of their leader, with a brogue thicker than the cold turf beneath our feet. Apparently I had lost their game, but in the scheme of things I let it slide. Being with this group of ten year olds brought me back to when I was that age: full of careless energy and an honest sanguinity. We ran through the tall grasses and chased one another around the sun-drenched field, at times forgetting that it was the children we were there to entertain.
Our Global Works Travel group had been in the Emerald Isle for two weeks, yet we had accomplished so much. Over the course of one month we completed 60 hours of community service, ranging from tree planting (of which we planted 1,200 trees), mural painting, and peace talks with the Catholics and Protestants in the North. The road always rose up to meet us, and the wind stayed at our backs.
On this day in particular, we had met up with a group of locals in the Central Lake area to organize a day camp for their youth group. The night before caused a frenzy in Hilda’s B&B, while we carefully planned variations of tag and other American favorites to share with our younger counterparts. That next morning we hopped back on our bus (it grew to be a very close companion on those longer treks up the countryside) and headed over to the youth center.
Upon our arrival, I was instantly picked out, due to my above-average height. With my little brother at home, it was a pretty natural instinct dealing with this age group, so I had an advantage in being able to connect, and we really hit it off. I spent the next six hours being tackled to the unyielding Irish soil, mounted for piggy-back rides, and chased down by nimble feet. It sounds as if I took quite a severe beating (and in essence I really did), but I had one of the most amazing days of my trip.
It reminded us all that fun can exist outside of iPods and Video Games, and the importance of making that kind of fun a priority in our everyday lives. Although we seem like rebels without a cause, out to spite our parents, teenagers in America have a hard time managing the different directions they’re pulled in. Right now, I am typing an essay that will hopefully help in my collegiate pursuits, and am quite stressed, to be frank. Unleashed from the shackles of responsibility, we found a purer sense of reality. The kind one develops from dipping his or her toes in a brook, or lying on the grass and decoding the clouds.
Robert Fulghum writes in his critically acclaimed book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, that “Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school”. After my experiences in Ireland, I have held a more developed grasp on my priorities, through the perspicacity of a group of children.
The picture I have provided was featured in this year’s Global Works brochure, and was taken just before leaving; it’s pretty evident I wasn’t getting out of there without a fight!
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