August 8, 2013
I don't really have any other words to describe my experience the past year through the Youthlinc program besides completely life changing. Every aspect of what Youthlinc is about has turned my life into exactly what I have always wanted it to be. Fortunately, you are required to not only prepare to go internationally to serve, but service hours locally are required for your acceptance to go. My service hours started out as me finding the easiest place to get my hours done and ended in me loving the individuals there. I decided to spend forty of my eighty service hours at an assisted living a block from my house. I went there to go help them, and they ended helping me. Such a peaceful and loving place, turned into my sanctuary to get away from life. The wise elderly people there opened my heart and mind and I fell to love each and every one of them. I was actually just blessed a week ago with no longer just being able to volunteer there, but work as a CNA. I am literally getting paid to help those I deeply care about all because Youthlinc pushed me to serve locally each week. That's just in country, in addition to the meetings every month where our team leaders left it all up to us to get everything together. The program isn't just about shaping a new life for those that we are trying to help, but shaping our lives also. As a team, we were in charge of collecting donations, planning lessons, starting fundraisers, and much more on top of getting ourselves individually ready. We had no other choice but to gain responsibility and learn that we can each achieve so much more than we ever thought before. As you can tell, my life already began to change before I even step foot in to the Salt Lake City Airport, but I can admit I never thought how much my perspective on life would change after my experience in Thailand.. I can't put words to my emotions the second I stepped on to Koh Loa Island. It went from excitement to grief and pain for the people there but quickly changed as soon as I met the people. People that live in the worst conditions you could ever think of, but the kids walked every where with a smile, would never let you go as soon as you picked them up, and tell us to come back each day we left. You don't understand poverty and pain until you have seen what people throughout the world live in. People that did not choose their life, but were born in to it. People that had no knowledge of what the world could offer and how far you could go and how much you could do up until the past couple years. You can't even comprehend the feelings of humility until you have worked by side the people that have come to accept that their living situation is okay, even though it is far from it. I thought I had an understanding of how this world worked, I thought I understood that people had it hard and that I have it good, but I had no idea up until this trip, this experience, this eye opener. I had the blessing to live out of a suitcase and realize even that suitcase was still more than what most kids have there. I was pushed to change my passion in life from maybe not making a world change but changing someone's life, anyone's life. I learned that although I may not be able to change the world, I can change someone's world. I have never felt so blessed, privileged, thankful, gracious, or loved than I ever did on this trip. I fell in love with complete strangers seconds I stepped on to that island and left a piece of me there my final time I left. I don't know any other way to put words to my experience because some of it is just to close to my heart to even try to. I'm blessed for being able to go on this experience and it's all because of Youthlinc. I see this program as a lifesaver for kids and the people involved to be angels to give such privileged kids already, the experience to go on such a life changing trip. I love Youthlinc. I love Thailand. I love the Moken people, but mostly I love what I learned.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Make full scholarships for underprivileged kids to be able to go on a Youthlinc trip. My family has never had money and so I was fully in charge of working 40 hours a week plus go through my Junior year of highschool to pay for this trip. It's not something I would ever regret because that experience alone I learned a lot, but I wish kids my age that could never afford such a trip could have a chance to go. I would love to see one full scholarship per team granted to a well deserved kid.
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