SEND changed college for me

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Terri Whelan

When I decided I wanted to write a senior column back in February, I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I thought of and went through hundreds of ideas, but nothing really stuck with me. But over spring break, something amazing happened. And so here it goes: my senior column.

Every senior looks forward to spring break. Going to somewhere warm to escape the cold, to have fun with our friends before we go down that final stretch of our undergraduate college careers. I always thought I wanted that, until my friend convinced me to sign up for a SEND trip. I was later picked to go on SEND Florida and I didn’t know it then, but my life was going to be changed forever with that decision.

There was an immediate connection with the ten of us going on this trip. But what was amazing about that is that we were all from different parts of campus. We had resident assistants, Reach Out Center service directors, Chapel Choir members, athletes, Core Team members, SGA senators and someone even going through the process of becoming a priest. I thought it was great, but I had my reservations. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, just in case something happened that ruined our chemistry.

Something did happen.

I gained nine brothers and sisters just from spending a week with them. We spent every waking minute together and we never got sick of each other. We spent our mornings working on houses at Habitat for Humanity with Lorenzo and Gloria, getting covered in paint, ripping up tiles and trying to convince the other groups that were working with us that we were just high on life. We spent our afternoons falling in love with the children and teachers at the Redland Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee.

This is an organization that provides daycare and charter school services to all of the farming families in the area, and there are a lot of farmers in Immokalee. In every smile, hug, and kiss we got from the children, I could feel my heart being changed forever. I looked at all the babies that I held and gave them the tightest hugs, because it pained me to think that their parents might not get a chance to hug them that night if they were late from work, still covered in pesticides or were just too tired.

We spent our nights becoming a family. We cooked and we cleaned; we swam and we played; we cried and we prayed.

There was one night that we stayed up until 2 a.m. baring our souls to each other, giving away intimate details that some of our closest friends might not know. It hit me that night that there are no such things as coincidences.

God wanted me to go on this trip. God wanted me to meet the people of Immokalee and learn about the world that they live in, one that is worlds away from ours. God wanted me to build a family with these nine people. I can say without a doubt that the week I spent doing service was the best week of my life. And the best part about the week was that except for the pictures we took, we didn’t use our phones. We actually interacted with each other and had that person-to-person interaction that ultimately brought us so close together.

So I have just a couple more things to say. Think about doing a service trip sometime in your life. Seniors, after we graduate, try working with Habitat or just volunteering at your local soup kitchen. Try to really interact with the people there. Underclassmen, go on a SEND trip. I have been eternally blessed by what this trip has done for me. I only wish that I had gone on more during my time here at Assumption.

Please enjoy the little things in everyday and appreciate everything you have. Be gracious and kind to everyone. To leave you all with a prayer one of the boys on our trip wrote, “May God keep my roots firmly planted, may my leaves forever pointed at the sun.” Mucho amor, amigos.

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