When all is said and done, I can look back at Chicago with a big grin on my face.
I made the 12 hour drive home today excited about the adventure ahead with India on my mind, but it was definitely bittersweet leaving the workplace and the people I had grown to connect with every day. Even tougher was leaving behind a charity and an organization that I had been enveloped in since day 1.
The culmination of the summer had to have been my personal project in the organization of the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy community service day. I have found that this is kind of tough to explain, so I will do my best. The camp is held on the McDonald’s campus (right next to where I worked) and sponsored by McDonald’s themselves. Their camps biggest emphasis is leadership and community service, thus the last day of camp all 75 girls and coaches commence into the Chicagoland area. Soccer balls, vans, snacks, drinks, and a bunch of 12-18 year old females. Yours truly got to coordinate the whole shebang.
To bring it all together, even though we had some last minute cancellations and a van break-down, we had 6 different groups of girls volunteering at two of the Ronald McDonald Houses, an assisted living center, a clinic for children with autism, and holding a soccer camp for disabled and handicapped children. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch most of the events in action, and I was taken aback by the maturity and unselfishness of the group of teenage girls.
The best part of the experience was afterwards- I was invited by Julie Foudy herself (she just got back from the World Cup in South Africa, so I was jacked to say the least) to come to the debriefing of the day back at the camp. I was able to hear each group talk about their chance to relive their experiences, and I was blown away by the unbelievable response. Not only did the girls get exposed to giving back, but they got so much out of it. It was clear in their excitedness that working with those less fortunate and directly being involved in the community impacted them.
To me, this completely made all of the hard work and effort such a giving experience. Through my efforts, others got to get a taste being a part of something bigger than themselves. After all the groups gave their story, I couldn’t help but smile as Julie started a “CHASE! CHASE! CHASE!” chant that the rest of the girls joined in with.
If nothing else from the Eve Carson experience, I will always be able to look back to that moment and feel empowered, as this was exactly what I imagined this was what my summer experience was all about. I actually made an impact in this one experience, and it’s something that I can most definitely take back to Chapel Hill and the rest of my life, and one that I know this is what Eve had in mind.