There are two types of defining moments in your life. In some moments, you can feel them changing your life as they occur. Others may take you years, if ever, to realize what seemed like one small decision took you down an entirely unexpected path. There is something truly remarkable about these undetected life-defining moments. My IMPACT experience narrates this phenomenon.
Two years ago, my resident advisor encouraged me to apply for an IMPACT trip. My IMPACT journey began with a 15 minute application. What appeared to be an impulsive decision to devote my spring break to serving others transformed into an irreplaceable life experience, shaping me into the dedicated and passionate student leader I am today.
With my first IMPACT trip, I ventured to Bluefield, West Virginia, focusing on children's advocacy. I was eager to serve, and greatly anticipated the humbling opportunity of using the challenges and successes I had experienced in life to champion the youth. The thought of going on a trip to a new place with 18 strangers was intimidating, but within the first day of my trip, my apprehension was assuaged. Even though I assumed the trip would be similar to my previous involvement with other youth-focused organizations, the insight I gained transcended my prior volunteer work by incorporating new components to hone in on the educational piece of service-learning. We spent the greater part of the trip performing acts of service and interacting with community partners. The nights, however, were what I cherished. Our site leaders created an incomparable ambience as they gathered the group together for reflection. We used the time to discuss and reflect on the day’s events, to delve into topics related to our trip’s focus, and to explore how our personal identities fit into the service of others. I left realizing how crucial self-awareness and intentionality are in order to serve in a progressive and sustainable way while also considering intersectionality, the way social issues are connected and influence one another.
From my trip, I returned with a newfound perspective on service and the social justice atmosphere. I was filled with the desire to further my involvement with continued service in other communities and my education on various social issues. Since then I have gone on to serve as a site leader for an environmental awareness and advocacy trip to South Florida, and I am currently serving as outreach coordinator on IMPACT’s executive board.
It never ceases to amaze me how my timeless involvement in IMPACT vastly contributes to my development as a peer leader and active citizen. IMPACT has challenged me in ways I could not have imagined. It has taught me the importance of incorporating both my strengths and weaknesses to be an effective leader. Additionally, it provided me with a resource of passionate and empathetic individuals, who engaged with me in thought-provoking dialogue concerning the issues in today’s world.
Most importantly, IMPACT gave me something truly invaluable -- my passion to implement positive change in society. This is something that I am willing to fight for, work for, and dedicate myself to in order to achieve my life goal. IMPACT fostered my desire to facilitate change in the world by teaching me to actively challenge the issues that I see. I have gained insight about myself and society. I have learned to better incorporate my personal values into my daily life and my aspirations. IMPACT has demonstrated that you are never too young or too insignificant to become an active citizen and make a difference in society.
This is my personal IMPACT experience. Everyone leaves an IMPACT trip with something different. Fifteen minutes and you could have your own story….