Last Spring break I went on my first service and justice trip to North Omaha with ABIDE network. It was life-changing.
When I first came to Creighton, I was told to stay away from North Omaha. This inner city came to my mind prejudiced as a dangerous place full of gangs, violence, drugs and homicides. So even though there were few times I came for good food, I never really stayed or tried to get to know this part of Omaha. And I guess that's why God picked this location for my service and justice trip.
North Omaha was more than rumors. There are incredible statistics about incidents, especially negative ones. It was rated as the most dangerous city for blacks while remaining as one of the 50 fastest-growing cities in America. Education for the youth is low-quality. All "successful" people move away, so the "unsuccessful" ones stay in Omaha and impact the next generation.
But the founders of ABIDE chose to move to North Omaha from West Omaha. They made changes that seemed impossible. A significant number of people overcame the previous sinful lifestyles to change themselves and brought more positivity to the inner city. This emphasized my mindset: a person should not be judged by their current status but their pathway and their struggles.
With my friends, I did a lot of reflection throughout the trip. I have been struggling with my own issues that I blind myself from other's problems - stranger's. It's so easy to be caught up with my own and my friends' troubles. The people that I don't see, don't know, don't hear of - they also have difficulties, more serious ones.
I go to North Omaha to buy food, maybe sometimes being concerned about my pocket, but never did I think about the lives of the residents there. Deaths happen almost everyday. Kids do drugs. Guns are solutions for fights. Gangs are family. And I'm thinking about my pocket? I want to say that's not me, but it is.
The trip changed my mind drastically. I learned so much, the type of knowledge that no school is able to teach and no teacher is able to pass on. I have always wanted to changed the world, and I think of my dream as something big and dramatic.
But it turns out to be quite simple. If I want to change the world, I need to be able to change where I live. If I want to change where I live, I need to change myself. And when individuals who are educated in the aspects of heart, mind and soul get together, things change.
Everything is not about any single individual, but everything can start with one.
I hope you can realize the same thing.