By Greg Dudek
I never thought it would have that big of an impact on me, that by just making a little difference in someone else’s life, it would have a significant difference in my life.
Since my sophomore year, I have been fortunate enough to participate in the Alternative Break trips at Bridgewater State University offered through the Community Service Center.
The trips have focused on many different social justice issues and have brought me all around the country, from Springfield, Mass. to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Phoenix, Arizona.
When I first started, I did not really know what I was doing or why I was doing it. But as I prepare for my sixth and final Alternative Break trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, everything has changed.
The magnitude of these trips goes above and beyond everything and anything I have ever felt, as each trip is filled with moments and memories that will forever stick in my mind.
How could I forget Carlos, a fourth grader from Springfield, who dreamed of being a football player, but told me he couldn’t play football right now because mommy and daddy didn’t have the money to pay for him to play?
How could I forget looking at the Hurricane Katrina memorial in Biloxi and think of the fear rushing through these people’s minds as the water rushed upon them?
How could I forget my seventh grade buddy Joseph from Philadelphia, who despite a strong work ethic was falling behind in what seems like an endless cycle of poor urban education?
How could I forget the homeless and working poor of Phoenix and what it was like to serve these appreciative individuals at the Andre House of Hospitality?
I will never forget. I can’t forget. You don’t forget the things that impact you the most in life.
By helping others, I inadvertently helped myself. I learned more about myself than I ever imagined through these trips and found that I am truly passionate about giving back.
Looking back, for some reason the Community Service Center took a chance on me two years ago. I am forever grateful for whatever they saw in me because when I started these trips, I didn’t see it in myself.
Now I see the power of these trips and wish everyone could enjoy the experiences I have been lucky enough to have.
In a week though, my Alternative Break journey will come to an end alongside nine amazing individuals as we serve those in need in Cincinnati.
It will be difficult to have this journey come to an end, but all good things do.
And while the trips will end, the moments and memories will live on for a day when I need to remember what is truly important in this life.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter @gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.