PBL student reflects on community service trip to Mississippi Delta

By JENNA SAN DIEGO

Returning to Clarksdale, Mississippi, this spring break was absolutely amazing and then some. This was my second time down in Clarksdale, and this trip was just as powerful and humbling as the last.

The first year I went I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous about building a house, and talking to young kids had always intimidated me. But this year I went down with an idea of what the trip would be like, and I knew worrying wasn’t the way to make effective change.

Going down this year, I knew the history of Clarksdale and how it got to be the way it is. Clarksdale has a race and class split; there is a wealthier side of town, which is predominantly white, and a poorer side of town, which is predominantly black. On our trip, we took a historical tour of the town, in which we got to see both sides of town. The drastic differences between the two sides of town leave me in shock, even seeing it the second time. The race/class split in Clarksdale was not an accident, and the great poverty compared to the wealthy side of town has showed me that.

Though I went to Clarksdale with a small idea of what the trip would be like, it was still very different from the first year. The work we did was a little different; this year we split into two groups. One group worked on the same house we worked on last year, and the other half worked on a different house. I worked on the house from last year.

My group cut, nailed, caulked and painted the trim of the house. It was amazing to see what the house looked like a year later; it looked more like a house and it was very eye-opening to see all the hard work that was put into it.

One of my favorite parts of the trip, this year and last year, is the neighborhood kids. The dorms that we stay in are in a neighborhood in Clarksdale, and the kids on that street come over and play in the yard with us when we have free time. This year, along with the kids who lived near our dorms, I got to hang out with the grandchildren of the woman who would be living in the house we were working on. The kids helped us caulk and measure trim around the house. They were some of the most diligent workers I have ever met.

While some of the kids were helping me caulk the trim of a bedroom, they told me that their grandma can’t wait to live in this house and that they wanted to help because she deserves a nice place to live. This warmed my heart and made me feel like I was actually making a difference. These kids were my favorite part of the trip; their hard work and hugs humbled me for a lifetime. They’ve impacted my life more than they will ever know.

These kids and this trip have taught me that small change is still change. Though it may feel like I may not be changing much by caulking the trim of one wall, in one room, in one house, in one town, it’s still change.

Along with the kids, I really enjoy getting to know my classmates. I know of all of them, but I don’t know all of them. This trip forces you to make friends, whether you want to or not. It’s impossible to not bond on this trip, whether it’s by making “that’s what she said” jokes, pushing a mid-bus out of a muddy levee or making “that’s what she said” jokes while pushing a mid-bus out of a muddy levee. These people have seen me at my best and my worst, all in the course of five days, and I wouldn’t wish for anyone different.

This trip changed my life the first time I went, and I didn’t think it could change it in any more ways than it already has, but boy was I wrong. Clarksdale has a way of making me and my classmates effortlessly happy, and if anyone says otherwise I can assure you that they are 110 percent lying.

This trip has helped shape who we are as a people and how we view the world. We can all take something away from this trip that will impact who we will grow up to be. I know that I have, and I hope that we can all use the things this trip has taught us to help others in the future and share what we have learned.

Categories (3):News, Education, Social Services

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