Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trip of a Lifetime

As one of three students on the trip representing Hofstra University, I think I was one of the luckiest people that were a part of it. I was completely on my own with over 50 other students and staff I didn’t know. But I never felt alone on the trip. From the first time I met my fellow students at the airport, I felt like we were a close unit.

A week ago, we were all strangers. It’s amazing to think that in only a week, such a large, diverse group of people can come together, work together, and come out as a family in the end. I’ve never felt so connected to a group of new friends.

Over the course of the week, I did so many things on the trip that I’d never done before, starting with traveling to the west coast for the first time. I painted walls, murals, weeded land, hoed land, dug holes, tutored high school students, spoke to junior high school students about college, and so much more. I visited places and attractions in California that I’d always wanted to go to. My experiences doing service taught me a lot, but I also learned so much about so many different things from my new friends and the staff we worked with.

Now that I’m home in New York, my biggest problem (besides readjusting to cold weather) is this: how do I describe what I did in Los Angeles to my friends and family here? It’s impossible. I can’t explain how I felt when I helped make the Boys & Girls Club in Santa Monica or the YMCA of Malibu & the Palisades better. I can’t express the sights I saw such as the Santa Monica pier, Venice Beach, or Hollywood.

Everyone has been asking, and will continue to ask, how the trip went. And every time, I have trouble answering. There’s so much to say and it’s so hard to articulate everything. But once I get started, it’s hard to stop talking. It’s just one of those things where “you had to be there.”

The one thing I do know is that this trip and opportunity I had was of immeasurable value. I’m so grateful that I was fortunate enough to be a part of this trip and this particular group. Thanks to Hillel, City Year, the staff on the trip, and all of my new friends from other colleges around the east coast.

-Lili Sajecki

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