A Mission Trip To Jamaica Changed The Way I See The World

5 Ways My Mission Trip To Jamaica Changed The Way That I See The World

One love, one heart

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This past summer, I traveled to Kingston, Jamaica with 20 of the graduating seniors from my high school class, where we worked with the Mustard Seed Communities and visited different locations where they housed children and adults with special needs. This was truly a life-changing experience and I am so thankful I was able to go because I learned lots of different things about myself, as well as the world.

1.  I don't have it bad at all

Kate Tulenko

It's true that everyone goes through struggles in their everyday life. I found myself struggling a lot last year, but when I went to Jamaica, I learned that I do not have it bad at all. I have so many blessings in my life that I take for granted, and the kids in Jamaica really made that clear to me. Now, I see my life through a more positive lens and remember that anything bad happening to me really isn't as bad as it seems.

2.  It's so easy to love others, despite their flaws

Kate Tulenko

Lots of people in the world judge others based on their appearance or reputation. But in Jamaica, the caretakers and children loved each other despite their flaws. It was truly beautiful to see so much love in one place where there was no judgment or hatred at all.

3.  Singing makes everything better

Kate Tulenko

It's true! Whenever my friends and I would sing songs with the residents, no matter how their days were going, it would put the biggest smile on everyone's faces. There was not a frown in the room, which was amazing to see. Honestly, I still get these songs stuck in my head sometimes.

4.  A smile can change someone's day

This is Moses, he had such a big heart and we would always dance together

Kate Tulenko

Some of the residents we worked with were scared of us when we first saw them, but when we smiled at them, their wall immediately came down and they were suddenly so happy to see us and spend time with us. This is true back at home too—if you smile at anyone, it instantly changes their mood and makes them so much happier.

5.  Giving to others is more rewarding than giving to yourself

Kate Tulenko

When I was in Jamaica, I wore these bracelets and hair ties around my wrist when we visited one of the elementary schools at the Mustard seed. When we were playing with the little kids, they begged me to give them a bracelet or a hair tie. This was interesting to me, because I thought to myself, "What's so special about a string bracelet?" But when I gave it to the little girl, she was so happy and thankful for it that it made me feel wonderful to give it to her. This trip was truly life-changing and I would go back to Kingston, Jamaica to be with these little kiddos a million times over again.

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12 Struggles Only Portuguese Girls Can Relate To

It's like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" but Portuguese edition.
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As mentioned before in my "8 Ways You Know You're Portuguese" article, I'm 100% European Portuguese. Which means that if you're reading this, you're probably somehow related to me (see #5). You know these 12 things to be true if you grew up in a Portuguese household:

1. You're pressured to marry a Pork Chop.

A Pork Chop is a Portuguese person. The older generation feels that this term is derogatory, but Portuguese Americans self identify as 'Pork Chops.' Some families will probably disown you if you don't marry a Portuguese guy, but I lucked out and my family is pretty open minded. Let me put it this way, if you're not married by the time you're 28, your grandma and your mother are going to take you to the Portuguese club to find a nice Pork Chop to settle down with. You may not be forced into a Portuguese marriage, but it's highly preferred that you marry within the culture.

2. You're always too fat, even if you're skinny.

Portuguese people are a feminist's worst nightmare. They will body shame the hell out of you and feel no remorse. You could lose 20 pounds and look/feel amazing and a Portuguese person will still say "well, you could stand to lose a few more pounds."

3. You must remember your Portuguese classes that you took when you were five years old.

It is a crime against humanity to a Portuguese person if you don't at least understand the language. If you can speak it, read it, and understand it, you've automatically earned yourself the "golden child" title. Every time I move to a different state, my Grandma's only warning is "don't forget your Portuguese," because someone's got to carry on the culture.

4. Am I white? Mixed? Hispanic? Unclear.

I grew up thinking I was some kind of Latina just because the Portuguese language is so similar to Spanish. You probably feel comfortable in Hispanic communities because of your Portuguese background. I eventually realized that I'm white, but I still get told that I look racially ambiguous. Whenever someone asks what nationality I am, I give them three guesses. It's rare that people ever guess Portuguese, but upon finding out that I am, I suddenly become "exotic."

5. You have 55 first cousins.

This is not an exaggeration. My dad actually has 50 first cousins. I have 13, but I have way more cousins in Portugal that I've either never met, or I've met them, but wouldn't be able to pick them out of a line up. If you go to Portugal and visit all of your relatives, the faces and names start to blur together and it's safe to call every man "Joao" and every woman "Maria" or "Ana Maria" and they'll be delighted that you remembered their names.

6. You have to make sure you don't marry your own cousin.

Portugal is such a small country that if you meet a fellow Pork Chop in America, chances are, you're somehow related or your families are friends. I suggest drawing an extensive family tree before shacking up with a Pork Chop.

7. Somebody is always praying for you.

Portuguese people are devoutly Catholic, so it doesn't matter if you're temporarily down on your luck or a self made millionaire, you have a tia (an aunt) that you probably only see when someone in the family passes away, who prays on the rosary every night for you.

8. You must have a name that can be pronounced in Portuguese.

There are two criteria for naming a Portuguese baby: is it the name of a saint, and can it be pronounced in Portuguese? If your uncle twice removed that you see every six years when you go to Portugal can't say your baby's name, you need to pick a new one. Names like "Riley" and "Jackson" won't get Grandma's approval.

9. You're considered adventurous if you move out of your parents house before you're married.

It's rare that Portuguese women don't live with their mothers until they find a spouse, and even once they do get married, it's not uncommon for their mother to move in with her daughter and her (hopefully Portuguese) husband.

10. You've been given something with Our Lady of Fatima on it.

Fatima is Portugal's claim to fame. It's the city in Portugal where three kids claimed they saw the Virgin Mary in 1917 and it's now a popular, religious tourist destination. Your grandma has probably given you something with the Blessed Mary on it to put in your car or in your bedroom so that you stay '#blessed' all the time.

11. You're not allowed to be a vegetarian.

Portuguese people are fishermen and their specialty is codfish, so it's nearly impossible to maintain a vegetarian diet in a Portuguese household. You can be pescatarian though!

12. You have to warn people before you introduce them to your family.

Have you ever seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" That's what it's like to bring a non-Portuguese boyfriend to a Portuguese family gathering. Good luck.

Cover Image Credit: CDMPHY / Flickr

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The Notre Dame Cathedral–Such A Loss Of History And Beauty, But What A Gift It Was To Experience It

Reid shares her story as she is saddened for Paris and the church.

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After the massive fire that devastated large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the 850-year-old cathedral's spire fell. French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to share in the nation's sorrow but gave hope for the future. This includes the rebuilding of the cathedral together and making it more beautiful than ever. "The fire of Notre Dame reminds us that our story never ends. And that we will always have challenges to overcome. What we believe to be indestructible can also be touched," Macron said.

Tyler Reid

Among many others, Tyler Reid is saddened for Paris and the church. Although, she counts herself blessed to have seen it such a short time before it was destroyed. Reid, who was lucky enough to visit the amazing structure this past spring break, remarked:

My trip was filled with so many wonderful sites. Although, because Notre Dame carries the title of most-visited monument in Europe, my expectations were high. When I first walked up, there isn't one specific feeling I got; instead, it was more of a million thoughts running though my head. Once inside, looking at the massive stained glass windows combined with all the details in every crevice, it was hard for me to imagine people actually building this without the technology we have today. This hand crafted masterpiece really is so influential considering people still went there to worship, even after so much time has past and so many other cathedrals had been built. This proves how special the Notre Dame Cathedral really is. Due to my experience here, hearing about the fire hurt my heart, especially thinking about how some of the irreplaceable artworks and all of this history may be gone. This place truly influenced people, including me, and for it to be gone is a true tragedy.

Like Macron, Reid shares in the sorrow; although, for her, it was just from one visit. This proves the amazing impact the Notre Dame Cathedral had and hopefully will continue to have even after this devastation.

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