No school, swimming, s’mores and staying up late, summer was in full swing for most in mid-June when five of our participants took a trip to visit Washington D.C. and New York City. It was an educational trip that was sure to challenge these five young people and, hopefully, change the way they see themselves and how they serve the people within their circle of influence and communities.
It was a goal in 2017 for Rewritten to take a trip to Washington D.C. We didn’t accomplish our goal, but with a determined spirit, patience and perseverance, what was once a wish list item, became a reality for five of our young people this year; R.J., Darrius, Hunniee, Jason and Desanthony had the privilege of traveling to the east coast. For some, it was the first time out of state; for most, it was the first time on an airplane; for all, it was their first opportunity to see, feel and touch what they’ve read about in textbooks and seen on television. From tours through a portion of the White House and the Capitol Building, the first couple days set expectations for the trip high. Those days and every day thereafter were packed with museums, International Spy Museum, Holocaust Museum, Air and Space Museum and National Museum of African American History and Culture to name a few, memorials, such as, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Arlington National Cemetery. These sites and so many others had much in common. Grand, yes. Beautiful, no, more like stunning. Striking, in more ways than could be expressed. The vastness of every building and what is kept inside seemed to transcend the immediate and radiate courage, hope and perseverance. This, our participants can relate to more and more often because of the support system that surrounds them at Rewritten. It is having the courage to dream and hope for a different future that fuels their perseverance to toil and march into the unknown.
Mixed into the learning and education of it all, the group took a one-day trip to New York City to soak in city life and the hustle of a big city. Times Square gave some ground perspective while the Empire State Building offered a view overlooking Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square, from a much higher vantage point. All of this had participants quickly becoming partial to the energy and excitement of The Big Apple. This trip wasn’t short of its own time of reflecting on some more recent history and considering the weight of a hole in the hearts of many, though. The event of 9/11 is so clearly recounted by many: what you were doing, where you were going, who you were with or weren’t and, possibly, concerned about. These people were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and other family members and friends, set out on a day like any other, but not to return. This too, participants can relate to; a hole pierced by the departure of a loved one.
One more notable mention is the site visit to former Board Member, Bernardo Sandoval’s workplace, International Justice Mission. IJM is the largest international anti-slavery organization in the world with a model to “rescue slaves, work with police to throw slave owners in jail and put the slave trade out of business for good.” Wrapped in their efforts is full restoration of the individuals they rescue. Photos lined their walls with the abundant stories of successful work. Participants and chaperones were able to hear firsthand the impact of this powerful organization and hear how their team is working to rescue so many held captive. The afternoon certainly left a lasting impression on the group.
By the end of the trip, the group was spent. Having been challenged intellectually, emotionally and, undoubtedly, physically, there was much to reflect on during the plane ride home and for much longer afterwards. The rich history of our country is tangled and intertwined in happenings that are as far from honor as could be and, yet, celebrating honor was a perfect way to end the trip. It is standing shoulder to shoulder with the people around us and in our communities with, sometimes, drastic backgrounds linking arms and joining in the work of transformation and forever changing the trajectory of one community, one life at a time. The honorable thing to do isn’t always the most popular or flashy or, even, fun, but it is what service towards others looks like. Servanthood is a reflection of how we’ve been transformed inwardly and our hope is that this trip further developed participants into young people who serve others.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”– Martin Luther King, Jr.