Weekly Reaction, Reflection and Response Essay
The second I walked into the classroom belonging to Imemeza Secondary School, I was immediately excited. The whole class was joking and laughing and couldn’t contain their happiness. When we were instructed to sit among the class, the friendly girls patted their desk, gesturing me to sit down. These kids, who I came to know for less than two hours, made me feel more at home than most of my friends could because their interest in me was genuine and I had intelligent conversations with them.
This interaction was important to me because it reminded me that not every kid has an iPhone or a TV and certainly not a wardrobe of new outfits, but it’s not the appearance that matters but the quality of the person. The rowdiness of these kids was honest and genuine and it forced me to ask myself, “Why am I, who has a privileged life and gets whatever she wants, not even close to being as happy as these kids?” The realization was harsh, but true, that we as teenagers have become so jaded by our possessions that they hold little to no true happiness in them anymore. The interactions one person has with another are the key to happiness and general wellbeing, not playing Angry Birds on your iPhone.
The day at Imemeza will always stay in my heart, and I hope to learn from the memorable day and choose interaction over possession to cheer me up. Friendships, I am learning more and more every day, are the answer to a qualitative life and can satisfy any issue or harsh day.
--Ilsa, Senior, NY
Reaction, Reflection, Response
During my free time while the teachers were in a meeting, I hung around the Mdumbi backpacker’s campsite. I was walking up to my tent when two young girls handed me a slip of paper with “God Bless You” written on the front. Inside the note read a message about needing money for a church conference. I had no money on me and I had no idea what to say to these young girls. I was uncomfortable and alone. I told the girls I would have to talk to my friends and find them later. They proceeded to follow me around the campsite for the rest of the afternoon. I felt awkward until I started to become annoyed.
The interactions with these girls made me begin to question the concept of donating money. There is a distinct difference between donating money to an established fund or organization than giving money away to a begging child. However, my decision to not give the money made me feel as if it is going to be my fault these young girls miss out on this opportunity that is clearly important to them. They had a white, teenage American to blame, who prevented them from receiving the money they so badly wanted.
In the future I hope to have group meetings to discuss what to do in situations like that. I think it is important for us to know how to respond to people asking for money and when it is appropriate to donate. I am going to have to work on not feeling so guilty when I deny someone money, but still have compassion for those who are less fortunate. I would love to “make a difference” in someone’s life, especially young children, but I feel the need to get involved and learn about the kids before I just throw money at them. If I developed some sort of relationship with these girls and we spent time getting to know each other, maybe then the end result would have been different.
--Halle, Senior, NY