Writing this has honestly been one of the hardest things I have had to do in awhile because how does one put into words a life-changing experience so others would fully understand? So I have decided to share some of my favorite photos and the memory that goes with it.
My first photo (featured above) is by far my favorite memory. In this photo Ginny, Circle of Sisterhood founder, and I have two little boys sleeping on our lap during the closing ceremony. The way this happened was very funny. The little boy on my lap was one of my host brothers and he found me as soon as he got to the closing ceremony and sat on my lap and within five minutes he was snoring louder than I ever thought a four year old boy could. My host Mom came over and tried to take him but I told her to leave him that he wasn’t bothering anyone and why wake him up? She laughed at me and gave me a look of confusion and walked away. A little while later his brother and my host Mother came walking over because my other host brother was jealous that he couldn’t sit on my lap so Ginny put him on hers. And again within minutes he was fast asleep as well. I think this is one of my favorite memories because never would I have thought that anyone in the village would trust us enough to allow this to happen. I could hardly hold a conversation with my family let alone explain to them how much all there kids meant to me. But in that moment we didn’t need to be able to hold a conversation because the way I was with these boys all week–laughing and playing games and giving them piggy back rides had paid off. My host Mom knew that I would watch out for these little boys and that I loved and cared for them and that was when she showed me that she trusted me. If I could go back to this moment I would, I was so in awe by the snoring little boy that it made me feel as if the ceremony stopped and I was just living in the moment.
The next photo is from when we first arrived in the Senegalese village of Ndoffane Boure. We were greeted by everyone in the village. All the kids were lined up chanting “Welcome buildON Welcome buildON” over and over again. Instant tears fell, I never thought I could feel so welcomed so fast from people I hadn’t even known for a minute.
The last photo is from the ground breaking ceremony. This was the moment I had been waiting for since the day I found out that I would be representing Virginia Wesleyan College and our panhellenic community. After watching the Chief pray over the ground and take the first pike to the soil I just wanted to jump in and get the build moving. I knew after picking up the pike for the first time that I was not as strong as I thought I was but I knew that I would be okay because of the amazing energy and all the encouragement going on around me.
These three photos are ones that I hold near and dear to my heart. They are the millstones that we as a Trek team experienced. From feeling so welcomed to gaining the trust from everyone in the village because of our hard work on the site but also because we treated everyone in the community with so much love and we showed them the passion we had.
I hope that my host family knows how much love I had for them and that even five weeks later I still go to bed hearing their laughs and remember the amazing time I had with them that week.
This blog was contributed by Jasmine Rivera. Jasmine is a student at Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma. She is currently serving as vice-president of the Wesleyan Activities Council.