As a journalism major, I am used to asking a lot of questions, but it is always a little more difficult when I am the one being asked “How?” or “Why?”
“Why did you want to apply for this trip?” “What difference do you think you’ll actually make?”
At first, I was taken aback by these inquiries. I thought it was pretty clear. I wanted to go so I could do my small part in making the world a better place. I wanted to give because I was able to give.
But it’s really not that simple.
First, it was not until last year that I truly realized how much college students can do for children of any age, health or background. Quinnipiac hosts a dance marathon to benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. My sorority spent the night with a young girl who was so full of energy and joy.
Through this entire process, she has stuck with me. Despite being sick and in and out of the hospital for much of her young life, she was smiling and laughing without hesitation.
Her story and spirit taught me my first lesson of how impressionable children are and how contagious energy is for them. When our group hosts the summer camp, I hope that this is something we can either find or give.
This trip and all that comes with it — learning about the children we will be working with and their country’s history — also correlates with my first quarter-life crisis that I am told is normal for college seniors.
My entire life, I wanted to go into sports journalism. It is all I have ever known for certain that I wanted. It took one open elective, a chance selection and the professor of a lifetime to teach me that I wanted more than I ever knew.
I took Anthropology 101 on a complete whim, and while the pages of reading piled up, I found myself completely immersed in the course. My professor and that course are the reasons that, when I received the initial email about this trip, I applied.
This is my chance to see if living anthropologically is something I can do and if I can spend my life and make a living doing so. I live to tell stories, and I want to tell the ones that would never otherwise be told. Spending time in South Africa and giving service will not only change how I see the world, it has the potential to change where I take my career and my life.
That is in the future, though, but as for the immediate, I really do hope to make a difference, no matter how small. I hope I make someone laugh. I hope I help one of the campers create something that they are proud of. But most importantly, I hope they leave the camp with memories that will keep them smiling for weeks and months after.