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Day 57: Epitome

August 4, 2011

I had an epitome last night when I heard the sentence “People just don’t care” about four times in the course of twenty minutes.  I thought that this summer was about my aiding in changing the social climate of Gettysburg and Adams County.  I thought what I was doing was learning about the social issues in this community and how I can educate others and help in instigating positive change.  What I realized, though, is that that was not what I was doing.

I feel like my job has been to show people that I care.  I care about whether a family can put food on the table, about the single mom who is struggling to support her family, about the senior citizen who is bruised from her fall last weekend, about the man who cannot defend himself against racial discrimination at work because he can’t speak English.  My job has been to make these people realize that I care about them and what they’re going through.  Without sounding full of myself, my job has been to give them hope.  In showing that we care, I hope the other interns and I have started to break down this feeling of disconnect between members of this community.  I hope that they realize they are not alone in their struggles, that there will always be people who care, want to learn and are willing to help.  I hope they also realize that what they have to offer is just as important.

As the end of the summer draws near, I’m not ready to say goodbye to the relationships I’ve developed.  Because I will still be in Gettysburg after the summer, it feels really awkward to let these relationships go.  However, there is not enough time in the day during the school year to fulfill all my academic and extracurricular obligations and still maintain these relationships.  It’s hard to justify this summer experience as not just a summer experience if I’m unable to continue the work I’ve started and the relationships I’ve built.  I don’t want to be another college student who comes and goes without really involving myself in the community.  But as classes begin, how can I show the people I’ve worked with this summer that I still care?  How can I still remain a part of their lives if I’m not actively involved?  How do I make this not feel like I’m abandoning them?

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