Alternative Winter Break

Hi everybody, this is Amirreza! I am an international student from Iran and I study biochemistry here at Saint Rose. In this blog, I want to talk about my winter break and how I spent it.

For this break, which was my first winter break at Saint Rose, I decided to go on the 20th Saint Rose volunteer trip to Washington D.C. to help and interact with homeless people and get a new perspective on their lives. I decided to spend a week of break on this trip because I had never interacted with homeless people before and I wanted to hear their stories. I was a little uncertain about how I would feel about it.  On the second day of the trip, I went to a place that provided food for the guests, who were homeless. I served them coffee as needed. I was a little worried about how to approach them, and maybe even help them, without hurting their feelings. I felt sorry for the guests because they did not have many options for their food, and many of them had to carry very large bags with all of their belongings.

One of the people I met was a homeless woman who overcame her difficulties and is now a successful woman with a family. She used to have a massage business, but for some reason she went bankrupt and the bank even took her house. She had a daughter who she had to care for and she only had a car. Many of her friends turned their backs on her, and even her sister refused to help her. She went to the shelter, and at the shelter some people treated her differently because she was a woman of color, but she met a man who fell in love with her. She asked for help from this man, and he had some relatives who helped her to get back on her feet. Now, she is happily married and her daughter is going to college. This story inspired me because I learned that you should never lose hope and stop trying even in the worst situations, and you can overcome difficulties if you really want to.

Another highlight of the trip was when I met Congressman Paul Tonko.  I got a chance to talk to him about difficulties that international students face during or after their studies and we also talked about the illegal immigration issues in America.  It was a great experience.

Overall, I am very happy that I decided to volunteer on this trip. It changed my perspective about life; I learned that I can and should be more appreciative, how to work as group, and how we have to try and seek help even in our worst times.  There are some people who are always willing to help.

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What do you think?