Alternative Breaks, Spring 2014

SMU Alternative Breaks took students, faculty and staff to 10 cities during spring break 2014 to serve community organizations while also learning about issues such as the environment, poverty, public health and education. Learn more at smu.edu/ab

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What one person can do

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An update from Abigail, who participated in the Alternative Breaks trip to Indianapolis:

Sometimes we forget the impact just one person can have. This rings especially true when we serve. Whenever I serve I always feel this irrational need to make a grand difference in the world, to do something essential to the advancement of humankind or world peace. However, the reality is, service is often grunt work and may even seem like work that is virtually inconsequential.

I5During spring break, I took part in my very first Alternative Breaks trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, where I and a team of nine others helped out at Global Peace Initiatives. None of us were entirely certain what exactly Global Peace Initiatives was once we arrived on site, but we were quickly greeted by its founder, mastermind, and as we discovered, only worker, Linda Proffitt. Linda is quite a character who is full of life, energy and wisdom. She has a true passion for feeding the hungry and educating her peers about the importance of food quality and sustainable agriculture. Global Peace Initiatives is all about training the world to treat the earth with care, to nourish our soil, and to ultimately eliminate hunger.

I4Of course, when Linda told us to pick up a shovel and start shoveling mulch and “casting” (that’s a fancy word for worm poop), it was difficult to see that vision clearly. My teammates and I were often frustrated with feeling inadequate in terms of our service. The work was back-breaking, and we often failed to see progress.

Still, Linda was diligent in her encouragement and constantly reminded us that though we couldn’t see the results of our labor, we were still huge blessings for her organization. As our team bonded through the freezing cold, the stench of farm life and the blisters on our fingers, we slowly came to realize our impact at Global Peace Initiatives. Throughout the week, though we may not have been able to readily see it, Linda had taught us the impact that just one person can have. Though she, as the sole driving force of Global Peace Initiatives, could have thrown in the towel a long time ago, she believes in the work she does and believes it will have a lasting impact on the world.

I have learned through my week with Alternative Breaks that this is how we must also view service. Though we may never see the fruits of our labor, and though the work may seem futile at times, we must believe that the service we do is worth the effort.

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