We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofEmily Rea

What is perspective? Initially, it is the way that we see something and justify the thoughts in our head. The great thing is, though, perspectives can change. About two years ago during the summer of freshman year heading into sophomore year, I had a huge perspective shift. At the time I was participating in a church internship that my community church was holding. During this internship, we did many different things from learning more about God and the Bible, to having multiple speakers come in to talk about how God affected their lives. One of the days during the internship, we decided we wanted to focus more on community service and helping homeless people. We came up with the idea of making lunches in bags and going downtown, handing them out, and praying for different homeless people. When everything was made and we were good to go, we got in our cars and started heading downtown. The closer we got to the city the more nervous I was getting because my view or perspective of homeless people was based on what I’d seen on television. Some TV shows tend to include every stereotypical thing, and I saw it a lot in reference to homeless people. They are showcased as people who are addicts, whether it is with alcohol or drugs, or people who were kicked out of their homes due to failure to pay or being a part of non-supportive families. Because of that, my view of homeless people was negative, and I was worried about interacting with them. The deeper into the city we went, the more homeless people I started to notice, which made me feel bad for all of them. At one point, we were near a place where homeless people could get help, and there was this group of about five homeless people standing outside and talking to one another. When our group went over and introduced ourselves, they were the sweetest people ever. They were very appreciative of our lunches and started up small talk. They even gave some good advice to us, such as: “Do the complicated things in life first, because then it is easier down the road” or something to that effect. When we were talking to that group of people, my perspective started to change. Since that day, I look at homeless people and see them as individual humans with unique stories instead of immediately thinking negatively about them, and that is a huge impact that happened in my life.

© Emily Rea. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.