Friday, September 27, 2013

We’re GOing places: GO! West, GO! Best by Kirsten Simons

Earlier this month, Sara Power wrote about her experiences with Global Outreach, or GO!. Sara and I were teammates on the GO! West trip this summer, so I thought I’d give you a little insight into what made the trip the best experience of my life (I wish I was exaggerating). As a freshman, I heard all about GO!: that it was an incredible experience, and one that everyone should have. So I applied for the summer domestic trips, and was accepted onto GO! West, a trip out of Lincoln Center. For the majority of my spring semester, my team and I had weekly meetings to prepare for the trip, fundraise, and get to know one another. By the time we left, we were no longer just a team, but rather a family.

To start the trip, we flew into Denver, Colorado, and then drove to Alamosa, a small town in the southwestern part of the state. We spent a week in Alamosa, working with an organization called La Puente. La Puente works with issues of rural homelessness and poverty. The people I met during my week at La Puente have honestly changed my life. After speaking with the director of the childrens’ program about his work, I realized that I want to have a career in non-profit management and help fight the issues that the neglected and abused children he works with face in their day-to-day lives. Every day, the Fordham students had lunch and dinner with the homeless and working poor of Alamosa, talking about their lives, and our college experiences. The level of interest and care they had about our lives was so moving, making it an experience I’ll never forget.

After our week in Alamosa, we traveled to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, where we spent several days learning about the culture of the tribe, and the social issues that it faces today. The coolest part of our time on the reservation was that we got to sleep in a real, authentic teepee, effectively living out all of our childhood dreams.

Our trip ended with two days spent exploring the beauty that is Yellowstone National Park. We got to see so many incredible views and went on two amazing hikes. Yellowstone was our time to just be together as a family and grow in our relationships with each other. The bonds that were formed after spending two weeks only in the company with my GO! team are unlike anything else I have ever encountered, and I can now count each and every one of the members of my team as some of my best friends, as well as my strongest support system. 

I would say that Global Outreach is one of the most unique aspects of Fordham. Sure, other schools may have service and immersion trips, but few of them emphasize building a community among those on the trip quite so much as Fordham does. In the end, the experience was so much better because of the support that I had from my team. I think our favorite song (“Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips) from the trip sums up our feelings about each other and the experience: “I’ll love you long after you’re gone, gone, gone.” GO! West was the best experience of my life, let GO! be the best experience of yours!

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