Spring Break 2017 recently came to an end and whether we went to the Bahamas or decided to spend a week on an Alternative Spring Break, we all spent that week doing what made us the happiest within. Personally I chose to go to Philadelphia, a city that was part of the Alternative Spring Break idea. This city offered workshops and community service opportunities that were based on domestic violence, homelessness, and women’s rights. The trip on its own was wonderful. Meeting and speaking with the homeless, getting to know their story, where they plan on going in life, and all of the lessons they had to share was amazing. The workshops were decent, somewhat informational but a bit biased. We helped in a women’s domestic violence homeless shelter which did not seem like much but the appreciation I saw on the woman’s face let me know we did what was needed of us. While the community service part of the trip was wonderful and memorable the social part of the trip is the reasoning I am writing about it this week.

About 15 years ago a part of my family separated and I did not hear from them for that time frame. The family that I did not hear from lives in Philadelphia. I went out on a limb and decided to contact one of them just to see what would happen. Honestly I am not sure what I expected to happen, at this point in my life I am kind of going with the flow. There are things and goals within my life that I know I need to accomplish in order for me to be happy with myself but other than that I am taking life as God gives it to me. Back to the story, the one I contacted replied and was ecstatic to hear from me actually. We got to messaging and I continued to update them on where I was going to be and when I had free-time to hangout while I was up there. The family member ended up meeting up with me and the group I was with in the city and I wish I could put into words the amount of happiness, excitement, and nervousness that filled the air in those few seconds leading up to opening the restaurant door. All throughout dinner we talked whether it was about the past, the present, and even the future we were focused on us. Dinner came to an end and I had to go back to the house with the group. The family member and I kept in contact throughout the week and they were even able to setup a time frame to meet the other family member I had not seen in 15 years. On a tour of The Kimmel Center I met up with the second family member and we talked throughout the tour. At the end of the tour I caught up with both of them and when we spoke to each other it’s as if time did not pass, we just aged a few years.

When I got back to the house I cried a little. For so long I thought I had lost contact with that side of my family for good because of one bad person and that ate me alive. I had no idea that on a school trip I would see family members nor did I think I would get along with them as well as I did. Throughout my life I have gone through many “rude- awakenings,” many on my own but I’ve managed to get through them and to find myself once the tide of confusion came down. No one said life was going to be easy, each challenge is another lesson that can be learned and every heartbreak is another chance to learn who you are as a person. There is a lot more I could say about what happened this spring break but the experience speaks for itself and for what the future holds. I am not sure what I am about to say makes any sense, if it does great, if it does not then I hope one day it does. I am glad things went wrong in my childhood, I am happy I got my heartbroken, and I am happy I have seen what struggling looks like. Encountering all of these bumps in my life has allowed me the gratitude and humbleness that makes these experiences and meetings more meaningful then a simple “Hello.” Life is hard, you will not know what is going on sometimes and other times it will seem as if you are drowning. I am not an expert on life and I still sometimes end up overwhelmed. But if you can learn to just go with the flow and trust that weird events are happening for a reason then you will learn to look at smaller things with more joy in your heart and your goals will not seem as farfetched as you think they are.

I wish you the best always,

Amanda.