Sweet home, Alabama: Spring Break trip opens eyes in many ways

by Sarah KellerStaff Writer

If someone had asked me two weeks ago what I was expecting to get out of my spring break trip to Alabama with RLC, I would thought maybe having a fun time, and helping the community out.

Little did I know that the trip that I was about to encounter was going to be a life-changing event that I would never forget, and that I was going to make nine incredible friends and experience God like I never had before.

I do not even know how to begin to explain the amazing experience I had, or where to find the words to portray my unbelievable week in Alabama.

On Sunday, we set out for an experience that I will never forget, it was my favorite day. We headed for Selma at 6 a.m. in hopes of getting a spot in Brown Chapel to listen to Reverend Jessie Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton speak.

We ended up being the first ones to arrive. While we were waiting, we decided to walk through the streets of Selma where we met a man who marched as an original foot soldier with Martin Luther King Jr. in the five-day march. He showed us pictures, and gave us a newspaper clipping.

We listened to Jackson and Sharpton preach, which was the most moving church service I have ever been to. There was a reenactment of the Bloody Sunday March. It was the 43rd anniversary of the tragic day, and we had the chance to walk in the march. I cannot even begin to describe the feelings I felt while walking in this march with thousands of other people.

On the trip, we went to several museums to learn about civil rights acts. We were able to see Martin Luther King Jr.’s home and the church he preached at, along with the 16th chapel, an all black church that was bombed. We also saw the Rosa Parks Museum.

I learned about so many things black people had to suffer through, things they don’t teach you in the textbooks or at school. It was very difficult to listen to all of the horrible things that people from our past had to go through just to get the right to vote, or to sit at the front of a bus.

Along with learning about our history, we were able to help serve the community. We helped clean the yard of an elementary school. We had the chance to play with the kids and even eat school lunch with them.

We also volunteered at The Phoenix House, a place for recovering addicts of various substances. We helped clean the yard and organize a thrift store they own.

On the trip, I became close to eight other students and one faculty member who was just like one of us kids. I was not expecting to become such good friends with the other members. I was not expecting for each and every one of them to inspire me and have a real impact on me, but they all did. I could not have asked for a better group of people, or a better trip.

From the other members and the talks we had, I realized that there was a reason I came to Simpson, instead of going to Kansas University–which was my original plan. I realized that there was a bigger power leading me here.

Not only did I learn a lot about history and a lot about the other students on the trip, but I learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I love doing community service, and that God has paved a bigger plan for me. Who knew that in just one short week my life could have changed so dramatically?

My trip to Alabama was the best experience I have ever gone through, and I plan on going on a spring break trip again next year, as long as the funding is available for us to do so. I would strongly encourage every student to go through this amazing experience; it is eye-opening and life-changing.