Throughout the service trip we became more and more informed about different aspects of the West Virginian society that affected public health: black lung disease, prescription drug abuse, child poverty, strong family values, the new Affordable Healthcare Act, and even state pride. Every day we immersed ourselves in West Virginian public health.
The day before we left West Virginia we had a discussion with West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition Executive Director, Stephen Smith. He is a part of a team that creates beneficial change in the lives of children and families. He taught us his job in six, simple steps: 1) have a real story, 2) organize a team, 3) set your goal, 4) find your target, 5) act with courage, and 6) evaluate. Being on an immersion trip and learning all that we have, I expected to discuss a situation on the elimination of child poverty West Virginia, but we didn’t. He asked us to use our story, our own personal story.
Why would I use my life to outline change when for the past week I’ve been learning about other lives that I could help change?
In six steps, a complete stranger told a small group of students how to create change—on an entire state’s lifestyle or in an individual’s story. Then it hit me. Change is personal. The idea of change may start with a single individual with a personal story and may grow into a massive corporation. The service trip allowed me to encounter an experience that I would not have normally had. On the trip, I became a part of others’ stories, but their stories also became a part of mine. The service trip was no longer mine. Perhaps the most important part of the service trip was realizing that there are real people with real stories outside of my community and outside of my life. Through the service trip, I learned that there are no ordinary, everyday experiences, because each one of us lives a different life and follows a different path. We can only grow by breaking out of our community bounds and meeting someone new. I was able to share an experience with the people of West Virginia. We both grew by understanding the differences in each of our lives, and overcoming the obstacle of distance in order to find a connection and grow in a personal relationship.
Class of 2016
College of Arts and Sciences
Service and Justice Trips Participant
The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.