Summer 2005, spent in Tortola, was the best summer of my life.
It undoubtedly changed and shaped me into the person I am today, as it was a summer of personal growth and discovery.I left VISIONS with more insight into who I am and what is most important to me. I also left with some of the most incredible friends, memories and experiences that I’ve ever had in my life thus far.
My greatest memory throughout the trip, and believe me there were hundreds, was finishing the playground we built for the Rainbow Children’s Home.
It was incredibly inspiring… to start a project as a group of strangers and finish it as a group of friends so close, you feel like family… to start with only a diagram and a box filled with thousands of unlabeled parts and use your bare hands to transform it in to a fully functional playground… to see the smiles on the faces of dozens of children who had never had something built for them… to realize that YOU made this possible – that you played a role in making the lives of these children a little sweeter.There is one student from the orphanage that really sticks out in my memory: Joel.
Joel was a smart, friendly and happy boy with a disability which bound him to a wheelchair. He couldn’t walk and had never seen a playground before, thus had never been on a swing set.
I will never forget seeing our counselors lift him on to the swing and give him a huge push. He started smiling. They continued to push him back and forth slowly and at that point he was giggling, then laughing wildly until he was crying from laughter and wet himself from pure excitement.
The best part? His accident had no affect on his elation in that moment. Joel wasn’t embarrassed – he continued to laugh just as hard, if not harder, and we couldn’t help but join him.
There is no way to put into words how incredible that moment was.
Whenever I’m feeling down, I just close my eyes, think of that day and remind myself that I helped make that possible.
What’s your greatest memory?