Through the cold, tremendously stressed depths of my first spring semester, I found myself yearning for a new adventure. No matter where it was or what it involved, I knew it had to involve service and thus, an impact on society as a whole. At Rollins College, the Immersion program is designed to quite literally "immerse" students in an educative and service-based experience to impact a specific sector of struggle within the world currently. I had applied to four different types of Immersions, all focusing on different, but fundamental, human rights. The Women's Rights Immersion in Philadelphia was on its way (as I had gotten accepted to it), and I knew this would be the beginning of a brand new perspective on the world for me.
Prior to this experience, I had five main thoughts going through my head:
1. Why am I going to a cold city during SPRING BREAK???
2. Can I handle a trip with 15 people I don't even know?
3. I have three midterms the day before I leave.
4. I'm excited to leave this state.
5. What will I learn?
What will I learn. What will I learn. What will I learn.
Before anything, I tried to walk into this Immersion with an open mind, and open heart, and a full luggage-three important characteristics of any immersive experience.
As I got off the plane, my instant reaction was "Wow, this place was really cold." When we reached Philadelphia, the mandatory sight seeing expeditions occurred. This included the Liberty Bell, the Observatory, the copied Declaration of Independence, and Reading Terminal Market. I walked around the city, and was instantly warmed by the love every person living in Philadelphia had to offer. It was like walking in a place I genuinly felt at home, and most importantly a placed of kindness. Individuals were hugging each other in celebration of St.Patrick's Day and sharing food with those who were homeless. We were all happy, in the company of one another. It was in that moment I truly understood what it meant to live in the city of brotherly love, and thus, I felt so warm despite the cold weather for the first time in my life.
Moreover, the service had begun. As a group of fifteen people, we chose to volunteer at three prime locations. The first, was a women's shelter dedicated to individuals who are survivors of domestic violence. Our purpose as volunteers was to be able to make life a bit easier for them, by doing chores, organizing, and cleaning for the location that housed these survivors. Following, we attended a "Women in Transition" workshop, dedicated to understanding and educating ourselves on how difficult the process is for women to transition from a place of danger (where domestic violence occurs) to a place of safety (in which they can recover and build a new life). Afterwards, a political advocacy workshop was conducted to understand domestic violence on the policy level, and help reinforce the need for individuals to get involved on a community level. To top it all off, we volunteered at a homeless shelter on the final day of the Immersion. At the shelter, we replaced ceiling tiles, cleaned the interior of the shelter, and fed the homeless lunch (that same lunch, was consumed by the volunteers themselves).
I learned more in this Immersion than I ever have in the past 12 years of school.
I saw first hand, what it meant to have a home. And I don't just mean an actual shelter, but a person or an organization that can be relied on for help and for actual safety. Moreover, I have never felt more lucky to be alive at this time in my life. It was like walking into another world categorized by individuals who are trying to survive, whereas the rest of society is spending time worrying about minor things (such as, what outfit to wear the next day). It is the 21st century, and the basic human rights of people are being threatened to this day. It was for this reason, that this Immersion propelled me into the direction of my own future.
I want to be a Human Rights Lawyer.
I want to protect the human rights of individuals who don't have a voice, and whose are being silenced by the powerful capitalistic top one percent of the country. Above all, I want to be the person that protects, defends, and radically changes what it means to be alive. I want to be able to give a real home to those struggling to find one. And for it all- all I wish is the satisfaction that someone, anyone at there, is going to sleep feeling better because of what I did for them.