"The ultimate measure of a human is not where he/she stands in moments of comfort
and convenience, but where he/she stands in times of challenge and controversy"
-- Dr. Martin Luther King
Eva from St. Louis, MO, shares her reflections from volunteering in Chang Mai, Thailand, this past Fall.
As an American Jewish girl with not much hometown exposure to social diversity, the idea of traveling outside my country has always been appealing. So as part of my gap year, I ventured out of my comfort zone all the way to Urban Light, an organization in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that supports male teens who have been sexually exploited for most of their lives. Urban Light teaches them trade skills and provides a support system that harnesses their determination towards improving their lives. It was colorful, loud, goal-driven, and inspiring. The young men who chose to seek a new path through Urban Light have endured sexual and psychological abuse in the human trafficking trade in Thailand. I had never in my life met such strong, brave, and resilient people. They suffer from unending hardships and sacrifice without complaint.
At first, the idea of doing art workshops with these male teenage boys scared me. Not out of fear of them, but out of confusion as to how I was supposed to act. Although creating a cloth pouch may not seem like a particularly grand project, it is a skill that these teens could expand upon with other crafts, and even market one day, eventually providing a source of small income for themselves.
I had never interacted with people who had been through so much trauma and harm. I found them to be creative, driven, and above all, extremely positive. I have never felt luckier to both teach art in such a healing way, as well as learn from these incredible young men. They valued happiness, hopefulness, and problem solving. I responded the only way I could think of, to learn what I could from them, and teach what I could. They just needed me and the other volunteers to be there with them, listen to them, and teach them certain skills. They showed me that one can always choose to want more for yourself as part of overcoming the toughest hardships.
Releasing a lit lantern into the Thai sky.
Now that college applications are completed, come learn about gap year opportunities:
BENEFITS OF A GAP YEAR Presentation by
Panel of former Gap Year Students & Parents of Gappers
Saturday, January 21
Upstairs in Grant Hall
4000 E. Quincy
Englewood, CO 80113 RSVP HERE
USA GAP YEAR FAIRS
Sunday, January 29
Speakers 1-1:45 pm & 2-2:45 pm
Fair 1:15-4 pm
4400 E. Iliff Ave
Denver, CO 80220 PRE-REGISTER HERE
Tuesday, January 31
Speakers 6-6:45 pm
Fair 6:45-8:30 pm
Peak to Peak
800 Merlin Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026 PRE-REGISTER HERE