Throughout the week that the ‘Chicago 8’ was site-seeing and serving, the students made entries in a group journal about their experiences. While reading over the entries there were many comments that I had to share about what this kind of trip meant to them and how close they became as friends!
The very first statement in the book reads “One of the key concepts I have noticed on this trip is the idea of community. We haven’t even started to work with Habitat for Humanity yet, but we have already witnessed the strength of character in this city.”
This comment is in reference to the woman who we refer to as the ‘Saint of the Shedd’. On our first day in the city, we had made a 40 minute walk from Navy Pier to the Shedd Aquarium along the lake and had already seen a really beautiful view of what Chicago is; little did the students know how much more beautiful it would turn out to be. When we reached the Aquarium we noticed that there was a very long line and so we took our place and began to chat as a group. After about 20 more minutes of waiting and chatting about numerous things, a staff member from the Shedd Aquarium had said aloud to a group of people just ahead of us and all behind that we’d be moving to another part of the building for a shorter line. This already gave us excitement that we’d get inside even sooner than expected.
Once we arrived to the other side of the building I had approached another staff member to inquire about a group rate for college students from out-of-state. When discussing some options a woman who had been standing alone in front of us for the last half hour told us that she’d be happy to make up the difference for us to get a group rate. This already was a wonderful act of kindness and we expressed our thanks to her. We were considering our options with our budget and decided we’d just purchase the general admission because the next package would cost more than $20 more per person. When I turned around to move further in the line the woman had approached me again handing over a $100 bill asking if that would be enough.
The entire group of us was in complete disbelief. We looked at the woman, at each other as a group, and then told the woman ‘you’re so kind, and this is very sweet of you but this really isn’t necessary’. How does one respond to something as generous as this? She insisted that we accept it and her following statement had really resonated with the us. ‘I wish someone had done this for me when I was a student’.
Before we knew it she had taken a phone call while Julie and I discussed our budget and realized that it would cover the difference. In the immediate feeling of wanting to return the gratitude, Julie had suggested we grant the ‘Saint of the Shedd’ with a Heideberg Service Pin. When given a chance to speak again with the woman we gave her one of the pins as I explained what this little emblem means to the Heidelberg community. It represents a commitment of service. All students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are encouraged to commit to ten hours of service in their community.
This woman had certainly done a service to our group and as a new friend to our community we were happy to present her with a pin. She taught us all that day to Pay It Forward.
“I really did not know anyone very well before coming on this trip, but I feel like I will leave this trip with even more friends at Heidelberg.”
I believe as an adviser on this trip that everyone gained a new friend during this week of service. Bonds were created and continued to grow throughout the week as we played games and just talked throughout the week. We helped each other learn about ourselves as individuals and as a group and it really helped everyone feel like a family before the end of the trip.
“After painting multiple rooms, carrying bags of concrete mix and insulation, digging and raking mud, and cleaning out paint brushed in the freezing cold, I realize that I actually did a lot for this family that will move in but also I am happy that we were able to help the guys that work there on the job every day because after meeting them I am really happy that we were able to work with them.”
The people we worked with and had the opportunity to meet throughout our week really helped build the week into what it was. Between the Saint, the construction team on-site, the Affiliate’s team, and the First Reformed Church, these students really were able to appreciate the accommodations and love that was shared throughout the week.
“…I do know that the hole to China will soon become a sidewalk that will bring a mother and daughter one step closer to calling the house a home.”
“… It definitely changed my life and changed my perspective on a lot of things. Yes, some of this work was hard, tiring, and boring but there is nothing that I would change about this trip.”
- Siobhan, Chicago
It was such a great trip to Chicago. We’re heading back to Tiffin today with great memories and having made a great impact on a Habitat house with a new group of friends. I am so proud of everyone this week and cannot wait to see how they put their experiences to use in Tiffin.