Giving Thanks

Posted By: Nyasha Sarju
Posted On: November 30th, 2016
Attending: Ulster University

Spending Thanksgiving in another country is sure to be a different experience, and understandably so, because outside of America the holiday is not celebrated. Due to basketball, I have spent the past four thanksgivings away from home; however, each year has assumed a unique role presenting different things for which I can express gratefulness. In that sense, this year was no different. All of the scholars returned to Belfast to gather for a few days of training, media, community service, and fellowship. We all reunited on Wednesday in Belfast and shared many laughs and stories about our different experiences across Ireland.

Homeless Shelter

We spent Thursday volunteering at a Homeless center helping sort clothes for their distribution. When we first arrived at the stock room most of us were unsure how to do what they were asking of us and wondered if we could really make any contribution to the dissaray in just that one day. To our surprise, hours later we had finished sorting the clothes into different bags and the room looked tremendously more organized. While sorting clothes may seem a monotonous task, the experience of working alongside the other scholars, spending time talking and catching up as we worked and knowing that we were helping provide clothing, something we easily take for granted, for people who have had more difficult and devastating circumstances and are in need, was special. The act of serving others can be extremely humbling and to do it alongside friends adds another unique dimension to the endeavor. I think the day left us all feeling very grateful for the opportunity to make a small impact in the lives of others.

Later on in the day we got to participate in a really cool photo shoot, orchestrated by Marc, where we got to dress up in our SCL gear and get creative in front of the camera. The festivities culminated in a very lovely Thanksgiving celebration event at Aether and Echo. The ambiance was lovely and the people were even better. We spent the evening laughing, and eating, sharing stories of our own family traditions, and giving thanks for the opportunity to all be together at this time. Perhaps the most special and surprising part of the evening was when the SCL staff surprised us with a collection of videos from our family members wishing us Happy Thanksgivings all the way from home. The videos brought some to tears and all to laughter as we got to see the quirks and love shown by everyone’s family members in different ways. From embarrassing photos, to cute cousins, to parents trying to figure out how to take a video of themselves for the first time, we were all filled with so much love and thanks that can simply not be put into words.

When I think back to that night I am filled with extreme gratitude – gratitude for the opportunity to study, for the generosity of teammates, SCL, and others I have met here, gratitude for the kids we get to work with, whose zest for life is contagious and beautiful, gratitude for the fresh air and beautiful greenery of the north coast, for the wonderful scholars who were chosen to embark on this journey alongside of me, and gratitude for my family and friends back home who continue to invest, check in, and send love from afar.

I wish we had thanksgiving more often because I truly believe that when we assume a posture of gratitude we not only brighten our own lives but we are inspired to serve others and spread the joy and thankfulness as much as we can.

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