Reflections & Realities

I am back in Indiana and it feels odd. Over the course of this trip, I have grown and learned so much and yet when I am back here it feels as if no time has passed. I worked on preparing for classes and went to the grocery store today. Mundane things I did often before our trip, but it felt different. Our team spent almost every moment together, and now I am attempting to adjust to being in my apartment by myself. I am so grateful for the relationships I made, and the relationships I strengthened. I know my teammates, what they like to eat, what their nighttime routine is, what music they listen to… They have probably learned so much about me too, maybe more than they thought they would. I miss eating together and getting into random discussions, like what animal or insect we would be. Most of all, I miss the routine. Wake up, get dressed, go to breakfast, lace-up my boots, and go.

Back of a truck with 4 individuals and a dog sitting in the bed of the truck, two men stand next to the truck

This morning when I woke up, for a moment I felt like I needed to get ready for another day in the field. Then, I remember that part of the trip is over. It was strange, I was ready for another tiring day in the field, but as I realized my mistake, I felt immediately exhausted. Yet I have no reason to. I slept in a comfortable bed, instead of out in the elements. I know that I have so much I could be working on, but I find that it doesn’t give me the same urgency it once did. When I know someone is out there struggling to survive, how could I find preparing for classes to be a critical task. With the goals we had in Texas, I felt like I always knew that there was something to be done. Now I am left with trying to fill my day with activities that seem insignificant.

I found that on this trip I learned that even the smallest actions can be meaningful. Searching an area and not finding something should not be considered a failure. Finding one more element for a loved one’s family is important. Still, it’s hard not to think about how I can no longer help in the same way that I did just a few days ago. Now, I am over a thousand miles away.

4 individuals surround a tree kneeling on the ground
Hannah, Chastidy, Claire, and Ella Clearing Vegetation and Surface Debris

I try to remind myself that everything we were able to accomplish meant a great deal and just because we have left, it doesn’t mean that the impact of what we did is diminished. I want to do more. I want to see more. I want to learn more. This trip has changed my perspective in so many ways, but it has also given me a stronger drive to seek out ways I can meaningfully contribute in a humanitarian context. Something I will be forever grateful for.