Inner City kids are sometimes thought of as rowdy and high risk. This week I met a group of inner city kids, from my neighborhood. They are out of the ordinary in regards to those preconceptions, and one thing that I can attest to is that they are about to go on the adventure of their life and along the way they will become so much wiser because of it.
Meanwhile in the inner city, students are getting ready to become humanitarians.
As they stood in line at the notary office with their anxious parents, they eagerly held their documents and asked questions like; “Who else is coming” and “How long does it take to get there”. These students are raising funds to physically go and help the extremely poor in Mexico. They are not rich kids or posh. They are simply high school students.
One girl was concerned about not having any friends coming on the trip. We reassured her that by the end of the week the people who are now her peers, will become her lifelong best friends. The effect on friendship is similar to that of the summer camp effect. When you are living and working so closely with peers and experiencing the most amazing moments together, friendships bloom naturally. I have helped to take many students on these trips and have found that they are the ones, out of all the people who go on the trips, who gain the most.
These students will be building a home for very poor families in Mexico. The families work extremely hard as field hands, providing food for the local region and California. The wages unfortunately are meager, adding up to just a few dollars per week. Often times the homes that the families are living in before the teams get there, are made of discarded garage doors, cardboard, and donated tarps. The average size of a home/shelter that I have seen has the dimensions of a 10×10 shed. The room is usually filled with bedding and basic necessities like a lamp if electricity is available, which most times it is not. We once ran into a situation where 8 people from one family were cramming themselves into the makeshift structure to get out of the howling winds and dust.
By the end of the week I have seen students breakdown in tears as they realize that their life back home is so much easier than the lives of the people that they just built a home for. With my own eyes I have witnessed teenagers give away all their personal clothes that they have brought to wear on the trip, in an effort to give just a little more. I have even seen international relationships continue on after the trip. The reuniting of these friendships moves forward throughout the years as a student go back to help in more ways.
As these students prepare to give their spring break to a cause greater than they know, I am excited and eager to see the wisdom that they will gain. I am excited to find out how they will inspire their peers at school to come along the next time around. I really hope that they become empowered to make a difference in their own community. I want them to inspire their community to be better with the skills that they will learn on this trip.
The inner city may suffer from low-income, gangs and drugs. But one thing that it is not lacking is the potential that the students I met today are exuding.
These students will be getting a blog entry dedicated to the adventures and work that they will do on their upcoming trip.