Over the Easter break, I traveled along with six other students and two faculty leaders to Niagara Falls as part of the Companions service immersion program.
When I was chosen for the Niagara Falls trip, I felt as if I was not going to get the full experience by staying so close to home. I was upset that I would not be able to travel to someplace new and experience life there. As I witnessed all my friends around me go to places like New Orleans, Belize, and Micronesia I felt as if my trip was not going to be anything close to being like theirs. But throughout the next couple weeks, in anticipation of this trip, I began to reflect and realized that the community where I was going was in just as much need of support as any other; our trip could be just as fruitful for us and for the community that was to welcome us. I realized that to serve someplace so close to home could even impact the community around me. My group and I realized that we had an opportunity to create the same change as the other groups, even though we were not going far.
The purpose of the trip was not only to help the Niagara Falls community through our service work, but also to develop a relationship with the people of the community. It was not to just see our effect on the community, but to see the community’s effect on us. The people we encountered along our journey had more of an impact on us than we could have imagined. We began to develop relationships with people in the missions, whether they were volunteers or the people living or eating there. We got to observe and learn from the people around us on this trip. The valuable life lessons and skills we picked up are unmatched by any other experience. Our group of seven students grew to become more than just classmates, we became a real community. Along with this, the program allowed us to develop relationships with our two faculty members on this trip, Dr. Joe Amuso and Mr. Ron Ahrens. Allowing us as students to experience life with our faculty outside of school was another part of this trip that is truly special.
The first few days were needed for the group to settle in and slowly develop our relationships, becoming more comfortable with one another and the ministry. It was easy for our small group to quickly adapt to one another through work and reflection in our first few days together. We bonded through sharing experiences, meals, and rooms. Sharing these allowed us to learn more about each other and our backgrounds. We learned that we are all extremely different, but that on this trip we were bonded together as one community in service.
Elijah is pictured at top, second from the right. Click here to see more photos from the Niagara Falls Companions trip.