Student Reflections: Santa Barbara #comments4kids

Last week, Team Fink went on our annual “Surf and Serve” trip to Santa Barbara with Simply Venture. Below are their written reflections:
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The stars were our flashlights, frogs and crickets were our music, the smell was fresh pine. “The earth has music for those who listen.” (Santana). We fell down a lot but we were able to help each other up and laugh about it. During the hike, we all were warning each other about where it was slippery and easy to fall. When we got to the top of the mountain we saw lights from the city, it was almost like it came out of a painting. When I wasn’t falling It felt peaceful. Everything on that hike was so beautiful, but then again I couldn’t really see anything. I’m curious about what it looks like during the day. What made it so beautiful was being out in nature with my friends surrounded by God’s creation. I’m glad I was able to experience the night hike, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’m grateful for our week in Santa Barbara. – Kaleigh
Sometimes trusting isn’t always knowing what will happen, sometimes trusting is stepping over the edge and hoping there will be something or someone there to catch you. When we went cliff jumping, I was scared at first. I was so high up and didn’t know how it would feel if I jumped into the water. I put my trust in God and jumped. When I jumped into the water for the first time, I leaped into God’s loving arms. Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight. The cold water rushed over me and as I surfaced, I wasn’t scared anymore. I saw the sun reflecting on the emerald green water that had seemed scary just a minute ago. I remember the cold feeling in my toes when I first slid into the water, gliding from the shore to the next rock. I remember the terror that filled me thinking about what may lurk below the surface, but now I knew that those fears were irrational and I began to see the beauty in not knowing. I am glad I can now see the beauty of what God has created in Santa Barbara, the beauty in California and the beauty in all of nature. Now that I have been to Santa Barbara I am beginning to see the beauty in not knowing what is below the surface, not knowing there is mud that causes devastation and not knowing how far I will have to fall for someone to catch me. – Sophie
In Santa Barbara, we saw, experienced, and learned so many things that we will remember in the future. The courthouse, the ocean, beautiful trails, and a culture filled with Spanish heritage. A large harbor filled with boats, ocean and a large pier at the end. Walking through this wonderland of sand, boats, docks and the smell of fish was super fun. We used this opportunity to learn about American and Spanish history. One thing that interested me was the fact that America took Nevada, Arizona, California and some other states in a surge in power and size. Another interesting thing was reading the story of how the pier burnt down in 1973. One of the restaurants caught on fire and that resulted in a 13 million dollar reconstruction of the pier. The pier is commonly known as Stearns Wharf and is named after the man who constructed it, John P. Steans. I really enjoyed the social aspect of that walk too. I talked with some people I don’t normally talk to and related what we were seeing to the movie Finding Dory. It was super fun the remember that movie with people who I would not have even talked to back in Colorado. This walk allowed me to learn it’s easy to remember junk that never would have crossed my mind. An example of that was how the sea lion made us think of Finding Dory. We spent the rest of that walk looking for the other characters. -Will
The trip to Santa Barbara showed me the true beauty of nature and Gods people. I learned what made us natural in our own way. I experienced the flow of peace. God had a lot of presence there, and I felt it. We learned more about ourselves and the unexpected parts of others. There was the feeling of interconnectedness within. Seeing the devastation of the mud slides and homelessness showed me that the people of Santa Barbara cared about each other even though they had no relation. The homeless were pure people in need of God and love. You could tell they were working hard to overcome the hardships they were buried in. I told stories about myself and I learned more about others. I learned that those who surround me care about my well being. Overall, I would go to Santa Barbara any day. — OLIVER
The ocean used to be too big and too cold, but on the plane home, it looked so small out the planes square window. On the beach, I could feel the sand on my feet as I grabbed a board. The sun was no match for the cold water. I ran forward toward the ocean. Then I ran back as the icy water chased my feet back to my comfort zone. Surfing used to be something that seemed terrifying. My mind only focused on the fear I felt inside and I couldn’t see the adventure waiting for me in Santa Barbara. When I was sitting in the water I could feel the pressure of my fear like someone knocking on a door telling me what I already knew, somewhere in the ocean I was sitting in, my fear swayed in the currents. Then the wave came, the wave that told me to start paddling and stand up. Then I was riding the fear that had me trapped for so long and it brought me to the shore. Soon enough I was paddling out again waiting for a wave. The waves got bigger and I fell what seemed about a hundred times, but the waves always came and I would stand up again. The sun went down and my fear grew smaller. My mind, heart, and soul were with me on the surf board. In the waves, I felt alive. In Santa Barbara, I got rid of my biggest fear. I am no longer scared of the ocean. We will see what happens after I watch shark week this summer. —Ella
Wave after wave crashes over onto the soft, smooth sand of the shore. Every wave with a force to take you under. Each wave crashing into our bodies. The numbness of your hands and feet make it so that every step is a privilege to be walking. The wet suits are on and ready to embrace the frigid sea. The thought of sharks lingers around in my head. What if all the movies I’ve watched become reality? What if I see a shark? Dreadful thoughts filled my head, but they were silly. Why would I be afraid when there is so much beauty around me to embrace? The surfers rise and stand with pride. The second you catch a wave is the second you feel that nothing is impossible. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). The Santa Barbara breeze was calling us with a sweet whistle. Running, playing, chasing on those beaches with the sand between our toes and the numbness screeching; take me back to California.  — Kuyla
Running to the cold salty water that I have not touched for 7 years was amazing. When my feet touched the grains of sand they immediately stuck to my toes like gum would stick to your shoes. The sun reflected in my eyes while I was looking at the ocean.When I was nearly two feet from the ocean’s starting point. My body threw itself into the water. All of my fears about sharks and jellyfish had all disappeared when the tip of my head was just barely in the water. I was so content with not having a surf board and just being able to be in the water. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I was in my happy place. Once I was kinda over being amazed by how beautiful the water was I decided to grab a surfboard. It was a lot bigger than I thought and harder as well. I found that it was challenging to time getting up on the board right, but I eventually got it. The waves kept crashing on me and at some points, I felt discouraged. I can really relate to the waves. If you look at them you will see that there is a high point to them where it is smooth and the best time to stand up on your surfboard, but about ten seconds later it is crashing down and if you try to surf those crashing waves and you will crash with them. It is just like my life. One second I am on top of the world and the next second I am at rock bottom. I have high and low points in my life, but I just need to remember that God is always with me. “When you pass through deep waters I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:2). I don’t think I would’ve had as good of an experience if I was not with my friends. They helped me keep a positive out look and also made me want to try and try again. Surfing at the Santa Barbara Beach is going to be one of the adventures that I will always remember. – Gabby
Obstacles in life can be seen in many ways. It can be seen as the end of the world or a way to gain strength. The obstacles can also come up at any time. Rock climbing has a lot of obstacles that you have to overcome. It all starts before you ever start climbing. In some ways, the hardest part of rock climbing is when you are on the ground the ”what if ” questions started to fill my mind the first time as I anticipate what could happen and envision tragic accident in my head. What if my rope snaps? What if I fall? The first challenge you have to go through is your self. Then when you actually get on the rock physical and more mental challenges come, but when you get through it all you are at the top. You see what you’ve accomplished. You see the best part and the reason that many people do this over and over again. The site of green tumbling hill and the sun reflecting off the ocean, it makes you come back for more. Now that a have done rock climbing, I now see the obstacles as opportunities. Opportunities to become better opportunities for improvement. — Caeleb
You have two beautifully crafted hands that are made perfectly. One to help yourself, and the other to serve others. Although the two hands have different purposes, they still serve your body; which serves God. In Santa Barbara, I came to appreciate serving more than I ever have in my life. Serving is not just moving your hands and feet, but serving with your heart. Such a simple food as beans could put a smile on someone’s face. At first, when I was serving food, I had a stone hard face and I didn’t connect or talk to anyone I was serving. Until one lady I served had the biggest smile on her face, and I felt my mood change. Her smile spread on to my face and I felt in my happy place. At that moment I knew my smile could spread a million miles. I started to serve with a happy heart and a smile on my face and finally began to realize that I had the power to create change. One small act of kindness could fill a hole in someone that food could never satisfy. We have the power keep someone from starving. We have the power to keep someone from freezing. We have the power be a safe haven for someone who is on the edge of being consumed by depression and loneliness. We have the power to stop someone from taking their own life. We have the power to do amazing things, but still, we limit ourselves. Next time you are at a stop light with a homeless man on the curb, I ask you to roll down your window and give him a smile and tell him to have a good day. You may get a smile in return or you may not. Whatever happens, just remember that you are serving God. Santa Barbara opened my eyes to the power that serving can have on others, and also on yourself. — Makayla
Community is the reason we go to Santa Barbara. Going with a class of kids who have their clicks, leaving with a bonded class. We played together. We surfed together. We ate together. We were tired together. Santa Barbara brought a part of everyone together. It also taught us new parts of each classmate. We met new people and created a bigger community. It is easier to step into the unknown with people. I never felt alone. A class of kids helped me experience new things. I could not do anything with out my class. I would not have been able to climb up the rocks if it were not for the cheering in my ear saying, “You got this Noelle!” “You’re doing great!”. I could not have kept going on the night hike with out the stories Mrs. Cunningham told or being scared enough to run ahead. Conversations would not have been as interesting without the jokes we came up with. Flying back was sad but I’m happy I did not have to leave my class. “People will forget what you said and forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”(Maya Angelou). My class made me feel joy and love. This trip would be fun if I was alone, but together it was amazing.  — Noelle
The heat from the sun beams onto my head, the helmet traps the air, and the heat is making it harder to peddle forward. Even though it was extremely hot it was worth it and I would not change a single aspect of it. The bike ride was an amazing experience because I got to see the view of the ocean that we all know I will never be able to see in Colorado. While we were on the bike ride I got to talk and ride with people I never would have thought of talking to. “A simple hello could lead to a million things” (Kelley Carter). I grew closer to people and I would not have thought it would happen on a bike ride. When I was behind it was silent and peaceful. I got to take my time and understand how amazing it was that I got to be in California with my closest friends. I got to enjoy nature and it’s calming surroundings. I already miss the view of the ocean, and I will have the memories of this trip for a long time. — Nikki
Small waves are like a comfort zone, I got to not only see, but overcome my fears and surf the bigger waves. Since I was little I was scared to go into the ocean any further than 20 feet from the shore in fear of sharks, drowning, or being pulled in by the current. All my fears held me back from ever wanting to surf. While I was in Santa Barbara I was nervous and scared, but I grabbed a surf board and got in the water. Once I got on the board I forgot all my fears and paddled out into the ocean. The water was a greenish blue and the water was cold, but now I was too excited to get out. It took me forever to get up on the board, every time I stood up my foot would slip on water on the board and I would fall. Every time I fell I laughed, it didn’t matter to me if I would be able to stand or not, what mattered to me was that I was having fun. I had lost track of time and the next time I sat and looked at the sky, the sun was almost gone. The next day the waves were bigger. I grabbed a board and ran into the water, but this time I wasn’t scared. Since the waves were bigger I got tumbled over and over. I had surfed for a long time and I had also hit my head MANY times. Every time I crashed I learned from my mistakes, I learned that I was sitting too far forward, or that I had to place my feet a certain way. I had to get out of the water, but I didn’t want to get out until I caught one more wave. A wave came and I knew it was the right one. I swam as fast as I could, I caught the wave and stood up. I had a sudden feeling of happiness and peace run through my body. I wasn’t alone when I rode that wave, it was the perfect way to end the day.
~Camryn

 

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Student Reflections: Metanoia with Amal Kassir

Last week, spoken word poet and activist Amal Kassir joined us for Metanoia. Team Fink wrote some reflections and responses to Amal’s visit.

Amal at Metanoia

Don’t be afraid to be the elephant in the room. This was my biggest take away. Embrace who you are and be the best you can be. I thought that Amal was so inspiring because she embraces the elephant and even though at some points she felt worthless she got right back up. “I believe that peace is something you can find even during war time” I also love this quote spoken by her because she believe that there is hope in the dark. Like the kids in the war zone they made the beauty in brokenness.  –Alli

I am the elephant and I stand out but you hide in the corner hoping not to be judged. I embrace the elephant but you run from someone even noticing you. Do you like being the elephant someone asks me? How do you become the elephant someone asks me. I Say, “To find the elephant within yourself you need to go to the place that is most uncomfortable for you and figure out why it is uncomfortable.” I take all your judgment in but you long to be the same as everyone else, but I don’t care because I am the best elephant that I can be. I don’t care because black or white, male or female we are people. –Lauren

All of our hearts beat to a similar rhythm. Wisdom sings into all of our rhythms and pumps life into souls. Wisdom speaks to those who have a hijab around their head. Wisdom speaks to those that have more melanin coursing in their skin. Wisdom even speaks to those who pray a little different than you. Wisdom speaks to you. Wisdom speaks to all. Amal showed this to me today. She showed me that we are not that different from each other. The only thing that makes us different is the way we think. The way we act. But these differences are essential. Your differences may make you seem as an elephant, but it takes an elephant to change the world. It takes someone different from the rest. Our hearts beat to a similar rhythm but it is the different tempos that change the world. It is the different beats that define you. –Macie

Even in the foggy skyscrapers and the thundering ground I will stand tall with strong feet and rise above. I’ll Rise above all of the clouds that scare me. I’ll play in the shooting rain. We will come together hand and hand and rejoice. And the language through our feet will be our getaway. The laughter bursting out of our mouths will be our song. And the dirt on the ground will be our canvas. You are the creator in the storm. You are the hands that splash in the puddles. You will find the beauty in the brokenness. You will rise above.  –Charleigh

My biggest takeaway from Amal’s visit is when she spoke of little Syrian children making playgrounds out of war zones… finding light in darkness… discovering beauty in brokenness. If young children in war torn nations can turn two tank barrels into swing set posts and form finger paints out of dirty water, then could not we turn our own war zones into swing sets? –Jackson

Elephants are in the room and elephants are even in you. Be the person that stands out into the crowd. Embrace your beauty of the elephant because you can’t unelephant yourself. Get to know someone by simply asking their name and about their family. Amal said “The elephant is the person holding a mirror to the world”. If someone is judging you, it’s not because of you and if you think it is then you need to hold up a mirror to show yourself. You can be the change by getting out of your comfort zone.”History was never made when people were comfortable.” Even if your in a battle find the beauty in the brokenness. It takes an elephant to change the world.  –Maddie

There is a elephant deep in side me. It longs to come out. To breathe the open air without being judged. It wants to come out, but I bury it deep inside me. I forget about the Elephant I once was. The Elephant I wish to be. Fear stops me. It claws and scratches my heart, refusing to let go. I live my life, hiding who I am and being the person you think I am. One day the scratching stops, an my heart starts to heal. I try to dig deep inside myself to find my Elephant. But I can not. It is buried deep in my heart. I can not find it. I scratch and rip up my heart once more. This time I don’t think I can heal. But I try. So I travel, throughout the world. Searching for the part of that I ripped in two. I find myself in a village full of children. They scream, laugh, and play. Their dirty feet kicking flat soccer balls. I get on my knees and ask one of the little boys his name. He tells me, “I don’t know my name.” My heart leaps, and I feel it start to heal. Let me write my own story, and give me the glory in being who I want to be.
–Makayla Au

What Amal had shared was outstanding she took my understanding on society to a deeper level. I am now starting my path to be an elephant, my strength is growing. Let’s turn every bad thing into a swing set. Amal is a blessing from God to be able to stand out of the crowd and be the rebellion. –Mitch

What was the best part of your day (Amal Kassir). Bad always has good you just have to dig deep to find it. Some times you feel like nothing but the world has something to find your self in. Amal tot us to always found the good in bad situation. When you lack confidence to be the elephant in the room, the difference maker, the different person than the rest then look to find it. Your elephantness comes through you find confidence in it. Be the change.  –Noelle

The main takeaway I took when Amal visited, was her futbol analogy. How she explained soccer is the one sport that the children enjoy. The one sport that takes away the sadness, and replaces it with the words of feet. With the words of goal. With the words of celebration. Where one of the greatest celebrations World Cup, comes to them. Where they feel like they are the super country. Where they can be alive, and live each moment with the words of their feet. That in time of death, and problems, and where they are living in WWIII. The cure is a simple game of futbol. A simple game of goal. A simple game of celebration. A simple game of feet. A simple game that depletes death, and bombs, and guns, and all sorts of weapons. A simple game where they only objective is for the ball or can to go pasts two poles. That give you the freedom to say goal. That give you the freedom of celebration. That give you the language of feet.  –Jack

Be the voice of those without the voice, be an elephant in the room and embrace it, nourish it. Amal is an amazing women, her words flow so poetically and her message is powerful. She told us about how kids build swings and games out of a war zone and how no matter what they still play soccer everywhere. If we still play soccer in the midst of war, hope is present; this universal language of soccer translates into love and community and hope. Amal inspired me to become the elephant in a room and speak not only what I feel, but what the world feels. I hope to absorb her confidence and use it in life; I wish to make people uncomfortable once in while and even become uncomfortable myself. Sharing my spoken word was also amazing because, like Amal said, there is so much power in writing, reading, and thinking for ourselves. I’m so honored to know such a phenomenal woman and to know that I can become a phenomenal woman myself.  –Megan