By: Elizabeth McDonald
It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway done with our entire gap semester. It’s with a heavy heart that I sit in a Starbucks two blocks away from The Pilgrimage, reflecting on what this last week of service has meant to me. At the beginning of the week, we all discussed possible impediments that may cause us not to get the most out of this week. The group threw out things like the fact that this was our fourth week of service and many of us were physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Some mentioned the prospect of Costa Rica being less than two weeks away. Personally, the ability to see my family in less than four days from now keeps my mind partially in the future, rather than the present. The days here have been long, with the constant commotion of the city taking a toll of my mind. However, the work we’re doing continues to have an impact on me and those we do service with. A couple of days ago, a lady named Ms. Debra Frasier came to speak to us about gentrification. The cool part about the lesson was that she taught us the main points and then we all took the city bus and got to see the effects of gentrification first hand. It was after we all had the chance to walk around that we were seated outside a church, huddled around Ms. Debra, listening to her voice mingle with the city sounds. The wind blew, rustling the leaves which was muted by the faint siren and car engines in the distance. People would walk by going places, constantly moving but in that moment, I was completely content. I feel blessed to have the opportunity that a street corner in Washington, DC can be my classroom. These past four weeks have taught me many things about myself, the environment I’ve been a part of and the nation as a whole. The biggest lesson I’ve learned, however, is one of patience and understanding. Each week has presented our group with a new set of challenges. Yet, as a group and individually, we have learned to embrace every culture we have had the privilege to be a part of. This journey may be nearing its midpoint but I know there is still so much to learn and be excited about. Before I embark on the next leg of this experience, I want to thank a moment to thank my family for being so supportive. Specifically, my mom and dad for keeping me up to date on the latest happenings in Mason. You guys may not realize it but every time I talk with you, I leave the conversation with the biggest smile on my face, rejuvenated and ready to make you proud. Thank you, thank you, thank you.