The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. -Mahatma Gandhi
This quote truly describes how my service project changed my perspective in a major way. When I first moved to Tallahassee this year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never moved, never transferred schools, and never had to experience change. However, moving here has been nothing but change. I am an only child who has always had an extremely strong relationship with my family. Not only did I move away from my family to go to Tallahassee Community College, but also I am a spring admit to Florida State University. I had gone to the same school for over fourteen years and now I have to go to a college then transfer five months later. It all seemed so overwhelming but I ended up going anyway.
What I didn’t realize until now, is that I am so grateful for the decision I made to move here. This move has made me more independent, go out of my comfort zone, and truly pushed me to find out who I really am. When I got to Tallahassee I did not know anyone other than my roommates and boyfriend. I had to go out of my way to make friends and find people I had similar interests with. I also had to get involved to meet people. One of the best decisions I made was to get involved with one of my classes community service. My service project was to cook food and bring it to Veteran Village to feed the less fortunate veterans.
The school I attended for over fourteen years was extremely involved in community service. We dedicated an entire week every year to it. There were multiple options for what we called “mission’s week”. Each student in the high school was able to choose where they wanted to go for their mission. Students could stay to help local homeless shelters or clean up our local beaches if they wanted to stay close to home. Another opportunity given to students was to be able to go out of state or even out of the country to help people. Our high school went all over the globe to aide those who were not as fortunate. Some of the places we went were Georgia, Alabama, Montana, Louisiana, New York, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Jamaica, Guatemala, Honduras, Russia, Malta, Thailand, and even more places throughout the years. Our baseball team was even able to travel to Cuba last year. Each destination had a group or team of students with teachers as leaders. We would send out letters to everyone we knew to help fund our travels. Then every year in March the week before spring break the whole high school would go separate ways near and far with their team to help those that were in need.
I had the blessing to be able to travel to many diverse places during my high school years like Jamaica, Guatemala, New York, Honduras, and Costa Rica. When I went to Jamaica I mainly worked with children, doing free summer camps so they had something fun and safe to do. In Guatemala I helped build a house for a woman who had recently lost her husband and went to several different middle schools to spend time with kids. In New York my team and I would go out late at night to pass out food, toiletries, and warm blankets to the homeless during the winter. When I went to Honduras, we were in a very dangerous part of the country and had to stay in a barricaded orphanage in the mountains that was constantly being patrolled to keep the children out of harm’s way. We dedicated a lot of time there trying to bring the orphans joy since they are not able to leave and have to stay there until they are eighteen or adopted. Most recently, I went to Costa Rica last year to do a clothing drive for single mothers, organize a fun carnival with games for little kids, and visited orphanages where children were rescued from bad family situations and taken there to be protected.
This whole time I was traveling miles away from home or outside of the country, when all along there are people right in front of me that are in need. Doing this service project with Veterans Village helped me realize that I don’t need to travel to find the less fortunate, I need to help those all around me. Cooking food for the veterans multiple times and even sometimes with my roommates really made me feel like I had a purpose. Not only was I helping them, but they were helping me find myself in this foreign place that is my new home for the next four years. This service project helped me realize, even though I am miles away from home, that change is sometimes for the best because you never know how you could impact someone where ever you go.