The Soul of Volunteering - My Family Travels
Our Group Picture From Student Life '12

In seventeen years I haven’t been very far from my small hometown in Eastern Pennsylvania. Even now, the farthest I’ve ever been from home is Orlando Florida. However, even trips close to home have taught me many lessons including the value and meaning of service, and dedication to the things you love. A trip that sticks into my mind when someone asks me to write about my travel experience is the trio I took with my Church youth group in the summer of 2012. Like any other youth group we participate in many conferences and outings. In summer of 2012 we went to a large conference on the East Coast called Student Life: Audacious. The entire trip was supposed to teach us how to be Audacious in our Faith, and in everything that we do in our lives. It was here I learned dedication to the things that I loved. During free time we were encouraged to go to some of the “time killer” activities that the conference had set up. During one day’s downtime a few of my friends and I decided we should go meet the actors that had been doing skits during the morning ceremonies. Immediately, I felt at home. I absolutely love acting, and I could not imagine my life without it! During this “time killer” I was able to speak with these actors and ask them how they were able to balance their love of acting with their day jobs, busy lives, and families. One of the women told me that “if you truly love something you will always find time for it. No matter how busy you get; you will always find time for it.” That advice has followed me for the last 2 years. Even though I don’t want my career to acting I have seen myself pushing other activities away so that I can continue to do my best in school, but also act and have fun! The last lesson that has stuck with me was the meaning and value of service. The main focus of the youth trip was to serve people in the community around Cedarville University. I had the privilege to work with a small group at a nursing home designated to treating those with advanced Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Form these people, I learned so much. It was incredibly sad to know what was happening to their minds, but the stories they told me were timeless. I spent most of my day with a lady named Ruby who had been living in Germany at the time of Nazi occupation. She told me many amazing stories, including a story about how she had helped smuggle a young Jewish baby to a home where it was then taken out of the country. Each story she told was like that and it was incredibly hard for me to say goodbye to her. I know that today Ruby might not even remember may of the stories that she told me, but I will remember them. They will follow me, and she will remain in my memories. She taught me that service is important, because the experience that you come out with is simply amazing, and sometimes you meet someone exceptional. So, I may not have traveled far, but I know I have had unique and irreplaceable experiences. I will always remember what I learned over the summer of 2012, and it will follow me for a very long time. My experiences are timeless, and anyone who travels should be looking for the life lessons that might just fall into their laps.

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