Today was my third (and final) day of working at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark, New Jersey, and I am not looking forward to leaving. On the first day of the trip, I was a bit apprehensive. I’ve always been shy and I was worried about bonding with my team and making friends with the other volunteers. I was also nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do with the kids, or that I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with any of them. After the first day, all of my fears were relieved. The kids were fantastic, and I already felt like I was bonding with my Lafayette ASB team and the other volunteers. My patience was tested in more ways than one, but overall, it was a learning experience and a fantastic day.

During my second day, I felt like I really bonded more with the children. I saw some familiar faces and met some new kids. Overall, I felt more comfortable then I did the day before. I had a better idea of what to expect and got the gist of how the program is run. I was able to hold meaningful conversations with a lot of the kids and give them reassurance and positive encouragement that they didn’t seem to be getting from many other people in their lives. I got to talk to more of the kids who I hadn’t gotten the chance to speak with the day before, and by the end of the day, I had a nickname…”2 Chainz.” ¬†I got to play pool, paint in the art room, and get destroyed in multiple arcade games. I also felt more comfortable being myself and opening up to other volunteers, both from Lafayette and from other places.

Yesterday, I got the chance to do a different type of service. I spent the day on Staten Island doing Hurricane Sandy relief work through the organization Tunnels to Towers. The story behind the founding of this organization was truly inspirational. I spent the day putting up sheet rock for the walls of the home of an 82 year old woman whose home was completely destroyed by the storm. It was amazing to see the damage that was done. Windows were shattered, debris was still everywhere, and tops of¬†miscellaneous houses were in others’ backyards. It was amazing to see the damage that was done and to hear stories about how little aid some families and individuals were offered. I’m very glad I got the chance to experience something a little bit different.

I am very sad that today was my last day of service. I absolutely loved this week. I’ve built so many relationships with people. I’m so glad I got to bond with the children and hear about their experiences. I’m also so happy that I got to know my ASB team so well and make friends with new people who I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for this experience.