I, like many others, am often caught up in the whirlwind of high school stress and drama. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause me to forget that there are things in this world so much bigger than test scores, GPAs, and my cell phone. So set down your cell phone, log off your Facebook, and stop checking the mail to see if your test scores have arrived. I just did — for nine days. I boarded one of four vans last Saturday morning with thirty other students. Our destination: Campbell Farms and the Yakima Indian Reservation in Wapato, Washington. Although this was the fourth time I have been on a trip like this with the same youth group, it is always a challenge to leave my world behind. It is also the healthiest thing I can do for myself.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
To do something real and worthwhile is far more educational and life-changing than anything I could ever do in a classroom. The history of native tribes is written in history books, but actually seeing what these reservations are like and hearing these stories first hand is not something I am able to get out of a US history class in school.
The work was hard and the weather was hot, and we were living a totally different lifestyle (a mix of farm life and reservation life). While this was challenging at times, the reward was in the challenge. My work group built a ramp for a family with one woman in a wheel chair and a very elderly woman who used a cane. We had just finished when the elderly woman came out of her house and just beamed at us as she walked down her ramp without struggling, whispering “thank you” as she got into her car with her daughter. This image sticks in my mind, because it was proof that I was doing something real, and able to help in a concrete way.
On our very last night at the farm, children from ages two to seventeen came to the farm to play with us. My group was in charge of games. Playing duck, duck, goose with the young ones, and elbow tag with the older ones and watching each and every one of them smile was the best feeling I could possibly have. Knowing that the four year old little girl who clung to my arm the whole time will not have the same opportunities and resources as I have had broke my heart. On the other hand, seeing that she was happy and alive and being able to embrace her childhood in that very moment warmed it instead.
This trip, like the others I have been on, has allowed me to learn about things I could never possibly learn in school, help others in an extremely rewarding way, to leave my ordinary life behind for a little while, and to create friend ships that I know will last a lifetime.
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