Spring break for most means a tropical getaway on a beach far away from the stress of everyday life. But for three members of the Missouri State University chapter, spring break looked a little bit different.
Over the course of seven days, Jacob Beck, Alex Shannon, and Connor Macke offered their support and services at the Sadhana Renewal Center in Kerala, India. The center is dedicated to serving those who are not able to provide for themselves or suffering from a mental illness.
The three members were tasked with everything from going out in the community asking for donations to serving food to giving the men haircuts or shaves. They were also responsible for helping patients receive medicine and assisted them in keeping to a strict schedule when it came to their medication.
Though it might not have been what a college student typically envisions when they think spring break, each brother affirms the experience was life-changing. Not only did they begin to appreciate the simple joys in life that much more, they quickly realized that each person has a story to tell, no matter where they might come from.
“I was really impacted by the way these people lived such different lives, but at the root of it, there is still this commonality which we all share,” said Shannon.
The center served as a crucial reminder that can sometimes be lost in the homework, the mundane tasks of every day, the stress we put on ourselves: be happy doing the simple things. For each member, they could not believe how joyful the patients, and even the workers of the center, could be with next to nothing.
“It was really cool to see how generous and giving everyone was of their time and whatever else it might be, everyone was very committed to serving others and being passionate about that,” said Beck.
While lives were being changed for the good at the center, the brothers can also say the same.
“I left with the intention of leaving an impact on the people I encountered, but I can say for absolute certain that the people I met left a tremendous impact on me,” said Macke.
Macke went on to explain that each day brought a new chance to make a connection with someone and learn more about their way of life. With the tasks that were expected of them, it was impossible not to become close to the patients, both physically and emotionally. Because of those close interactions and bonds that began to form, the value of service was solidified for Shannon, Beck, and Macke.
“The main takeaway I had was to just question every day, ‘what more can I give and what more can I do for other people’,” said Beck. “I also was reminded to be happy and joyful in every encounter I have.”
Sharing an experience as eye-opening as this with fellow members is invaluable as the brothers readjust back to life at Missouri State. Although the trip has ended, the renewed sense of service continues.
“For me, service is not just the way in which we accomplish things, but the way in which we show love for other people,” said Shannon.
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