I had awoken early on the brisk Friday morning to the sound of my roommate, Valentin’s, alarm clock persistently beeping, signaling that it was time to get out of bed and start the day. After I had gotten dressed and ready for the day, I had rushed downstairs to get breakfast, but upon arrival to the dining room, I was shocked to hear from Devon that I was the team leader for the day. I had realized that this had given me a great deal of responsibility in that, I would have to help to guide my friends in our service project that day. We were informed that on that day we would be visiting a school to play with the kids and make pancakes for them, food they hardly ever get to have. The group had taken their box lunches for the day and boarded the bus to embark on our journey to the school. Upon arrival, we had broken into groups of ten and six to work in the kitchen and paint with the kids. As the ten people had worked in the kitchen to cook oatmeal and pancakes with cheese and honey, I had joined with five other volunteers to paint with the children. In the art room, we had begun by drawing pictures. This school has very little supplies for the students, so Go Beyond had provided multiple pens, pencils, papers and other supplies for the students at the school to use. When we were drawn pictures, we had moved onto painting on the canvases with the children. I had helped several children to paint a landscape featuring mountains, green grass, a river, and a bright blue sky. As we had finished art time with the children, we had moved onto helping in the garden. Several volunteers had picked weeds out of the garden as others, including myself, had loaded bags with the weeds and had taken them away to throw them out. Once we had finished ridding the garden of weeds, and raking it so that the dirt was leveled, we had moved onto watering the land. We had spent a significant amount of time irrigating water from the bathroom to the garden until the garden was sufficiently watered to our liking. When we had finished with the garden, the majority of the group had left to meet to the community, while me, Valentin, and McKinley had stayed with the children to feed and play with them. We had fed the children the remaining oatmeal and had then played tag and soccer with them. The kids were extremely energetic and very exhausting. When the rest of the group had returned from meeting the community we had proceeded to eat our box lunch. After a fulfilling lunch, we had music was turned on and everyone had begun dancing in a circle. It was funny to see everyone so happy and dancing together. After this we had begun our next activity, making trees with the kids. Harry, Valentin, and I had worked together to help create a tree for a boy who went to the school. We had used a paper towel roll as the trunk and crumpled up the green paper as the leaves and branches. We had also added orange and red circles to the tree to represent apples and oranges. For the final activity of the day, we had each written a reason we were thankful for nature on a green piece of paper and glued it to a paper tree trunk, making a considerable tree made up of reasons why nature is so great. I had written that I was thankful for nature because of the food that it gives us. After this, we had headed back to the hostel.
Later that night we would have one of our most important forums yet. We had set the mood for the forum by turning off the lights and illuminating the room with a few candles. We were each handed a piece of paper before the forum. When we began, Devon had asked us to draw a mask on the paper; this mask had been a representation of who we were. Next, Devon had asked us to write down three traits about ourselves that define us in positive ways. After that, we were asked to do a more challenging task, write down three negative things that we don’t like about ourselves on the back of the paper. We had then crumpled up these papers and began to throw them around the room in a huge paper snowball fight. After several minutes of this, we had each collected a piece of paper that was thrown. With all of the lights now on, we had begun to read aloud, positive traits from the stranger’s paper that we had identified with ourselves. We had then turned to the back and read the negative characteristics we identified with aloud. This proved to be a very emotional and arduous task. After this, we had begun to share our vulnerabilities with the group in hopes that we would be able to support each other through our hardships. This task has proved to be even harder, but much more helpful. Members of the group were able to share their vulnerabilities and heal from them through emotional support. It was incredibly inspiring to hear everyone voice their problems courageously to the entire group and it was hugely successful in being able to relieve some of the pain and pressure of these vulnerabilities.