A Place for Rejects

Today I had my first full day here without my dad, who, I drove to a hotel near the airport and who flew home this morning. Today was pretty much information overload, but I have a better feel for life is here, and who is here. I met my team this morning and was surprised on several fronts. There are many people on my team that have been here for a while, and 1/3rd of the team are people who served here last year. One of the girls working at my site worked there last year, and was able to give me a better idea of what I will find there when I start working at my actual site in two weeks. One of the guys that I was talking to summed up the city for me as, “the place where the people who were rejected in high school come together.” It is overwhelmingly white, which offers a strange contrast to my recent homes and their diverse populations, but there are other, more outstanding differences. It is home to the punks, goths, gays, lesbians, and those who refuse to be defined by a label. The people here boast tattoos, piercings, gauges, and stickers that proclaim all kinds of political and anti-religious messages. People who were rejected have found a community here, and here they band together.

I said I wanted to come here to get a different perspective on life, and to learn from people who were different from myself. I think that if I had not wanted that, today would have been very hard. This year will not be comfortable for me. I will be challenged on assumptions I have made, challenged on my personal beliefs as well as my political ideologies. I will grow, because I cannot remain as I am and have a successful year here. I will not get a tattoo. I will not add extra holes to my body, but I will not leave the same way that I am arriving. This week marks a transition in my eating as well. I will be signing up for food stamps, as my stipend gives us little to live off of. I will have basic healthcare insurance through the state in which I am living. I will be volunteer at a co-op, and get food from a food bank. This year is about experiencing a different way of life, and getting to know people that I otherwise may not ever have talked to. Here’s to the rejects, to those who have not done well in life. Here’s to those without a home, those who are broken and hurting, and to myself. May we learn from each other,realize and remember, that deep down, we all want a place to belong.