Claire Scavone, PT Corps Member at Pleasant-Mound Urban Park UMC
After listening to a Project Transformation recruiter speak to my Spanish 303 class last November, I remember thinking about what an adventure it would be to live in Dallas. When I submitted my Project Transformation application last December, I saw it as an opportunity to avoid living at home for the summer. As I moved in for training in May, Project Transformation was merely a summer job; an adventure in a new city. As I heard the testimonies from returners about their life changing experiences, I distinctly remember thinking, “They’re being overly sentimental, it’s just a summer job.”
Exactly two months later, it is 12:34 AM, and I need to be out of bed in six hours. However, I am overwhelmed with so much fulfillment and awe that I feel inspired to write this entire blog post. Project Transformation is so much more than just another summer job. Project Transformation is a place where kids show you a thing or two about the world and about yourself, whether you’re ready to hear them or not. This summer, my Pleasant Mound kids have embodied life lessons that I will carry with me forever, and I’d like to share a few that I’ve reflected on recently.
Thank you to Jaime and Jose for teaching me that sometimes the little things are actually the BIG things. Our lunch time arm wrestling matches are filled with so much excitement and competition that you’d think we were at a high-stakes soccer match instead. We’ve bonded so much through such a little thing, and our lunch time together is my favorite part of the day.
Thank you to Ruby and Andrea for showing me that taking the time to speak in someone’s native language (even if you’re not that good at it) can make a person’s day, and be the taste of home that they need. Even a simple “hola” makes these two smile and feel better about the day. It’s the least I can do for them.
Thank you to Celeste and Daniela’s family for being the perfect strangers that have shown me kindness and love like I’ve never seen before. I’ve been so amazed by how willing these people are to share their family, culture, and love with me. In a city where I knew no one two months ago, I feel like I’ve found a little taste of home in their love for one another, and in the genuine compassion they show to me.
Thank you to Marquise and Richard for showing me that first and foremost I need to give encouragement, and give my all. These little boys have required all of my patience, all of my kindness, and all of my attention this summer, and it has been so worth it. With a few kind statements of “you can do it, I believe in you,” I’ve been able to see these boys love to grow and learn. They may have exhausted me most days, but it was beyond worth it as I watch Richard read his first book by himself today.
And thank you to all of the Pleasant Mound UMC team for showing me that people and experiences are what truly make you happy. Being at site each day, laughing and playing with our kids has been the closest thing to pure, genuine happiness that I’ve ever experienced. Their laughter, their glowing smiles, their singing, their impatience, their occasional complaints, their gleeful shrieks, their creativity, their artwork, and most importantly, their love. They have brought all of this to Pleasant Mound UMC, and it has culminated in more joy than I thought possible.
Sure, I’ve heard all of these little lessons before, but I’ve never encountered people that embodied them so powerfully. I will remember our kids by these lessons, as a constant reminder to live my life as they do. They may never know how much they have taught me, but I hope that I taught them a little bit in return. Project Transformation is so much more than just a job; it is a way of life that carries on far beyond August. People may not understand until they too have experienced it, but Project Transformation will be with me forever.