Well, I had to ask for an extension of my final project-but I did have a good reason! My aim was for my final project to be something that I really wanted to do, something that had a purpose beyond just meeting my course requirement. I had finally settled on doing something that did have value-but I was having a hard time getting excited about it. Then, just as life often tosses us a surprise, an opportunity presented itself.
I found myself agreeing at the last minute to take 9 Middle School Students on a three day trip to Surin, Thailand. This trip involved a six hour bus ride each way, two nights in a hotel, and coordinating with another organization. This organization was Operation Smile.
For all of my reluctance and last minute stress, I am so glad that life did throw me this little surprise. This was an amazing trip with a phenomenal group of students. Each of these kids in his or her own way touched the lives of children and families during an incredibly emotional experience. From the screening day of trying to navigate hundreds of people asking for surgery for their children, to the surgical ward on the day surgeries started, to actually standing next to the doctors in the operating room while the surgeries were being performed…these kids showed that they were there to support these children and families in need.
So my final project is a video created, with a link to the donation website, that hopefully will encourage some to also reach out and touch these children’s lives. I know my life has been touched by this experience. Not just by the children and families needing surgery, but also by my students.
Thank you “Carl Jr” (Chris) for tirelessly blowing the bubbles and patiently tossing the ball-you brought laughter and smiles everywhere you went. Thank you “Dr.” Owain for not only being gentle with the kids needing surgery, but also for caring about the other kids on our trip-and for insisting that you wanted to create a video all on your own, it is amazing! Thank you Sanjana for your quiet smile that helped ease the kids’ fears and for putting their needs before your own. Thank you Ciel for translating for us, the doctors, the kids, and the families-those little ones will always remember the duck duck goose games and joy you brought into their lives (and now you, too, have added your own phenomenal video that spreads the message!). Thank you Julie for your quiet curiosity and your willingness to do whatever was asked of you-your patience is remarkable. Thank you Liana for being the ‘crazy sticker girl’ and even when you were tired, still finding the energy to jump and play ball to make the kids smile and laugh. Thank you Becky, for sharing your creativity and kindness-when you reached out to gently hold the hand of an unknown elderly woman waiting for surgery, it showed the depth of compassion you hold in your heart. Thank you Siska, for truly feeling the sadness of others and wanting to bring joy into people’s lives-you really see others’ pain and you reach out with a heart full of love. Thank you Tasha for being so incredibly full of love and joy that just being near you brought the same feelings to the children and families you touched-you have a heart of gold. You all touched lives-you made our world a better place.