Having never been off of U.S. soil in my lifetime, I had some
hopes and thoughts about what my experience traveling to Poland
and Belarus would bring. Well, they were completely wrong.
This trip has literally changed my life, and when I reflect back
on it I know there are two groups of people responsible: my
fellow students/advisors/leaders from America, and the
Belarussian citizens of Lunna.
First, I need to give credit to all of our entourage
from Dartmouth. We all met once a week for a term prior to the
trip, so we were no longer strangers, but I have no problem in
saying for the most part we were all acquaintances. Two weeks
later I would call numerous members of this group my best
friends. In such a short time after leaving the U.S. many of
them began to feel like brothers. I opened up to the group in
ways only the people closest to me know. When reflecting on the
trip the first, and best memory I have is of all of them and the
twelve best days of my life. Without them this trip, and my
first time out of America would have never been the same.
My second strongest memory, and lesson, comes from
the many Belarussian people we met during our time working in
Lunna. The first day we began our work a few curious people
came out to see what we were doing. By our final day of work we
had well over one hundred people aiding us. Whole classes of
schoolchildren were doing everything they could to help us.
There were numerous adults and older children doing back
breaking work during their free time. Without them, the work we
were able to accomplish would not be nearly as impressive. The
many kids and adults taught me that no matter how different our
cultures, finances, governments, history, or language, we truly
are all the same. It is mainly this lesson, along with my new
best friends, that I have brought back to America and has
changed my life for the better.
Jason Reid ’08