As I walk onto the Gunpowder bay beach the hot sun beats down on me, instantly burning my pale complexion. At a first glance the small beach seems over crowded, and filled with screaming children. But like anything in life, there was much more than screaming children and scary white women laying in the sweltering sun. Today was filled with joy, laughter, and sadness as we said goodbye to our Acts4Youth friends. It has only been three days since Second Presbyterian has been working with Acts4Youth, but it feels like I have been friends with these boys for much longer. On Tuesday, the first day of volunteering, SecondPres and Acts4Youth were clearly separated. It is apart of human nature to stay with people we know and trust. It is up to us to make ourselves vulnerable and fight back against mother nature’s blessing, and curse. Now the reason I refer to this as a curse is because it causes us to create barriers; similar to the divide racially and socioeconomically in Baltimore. Over our three days of working with the Acts4Youth boys we were able to sledgehammer the glass barrier we had, staying with people we know and are similar to. Today, in the energizing bay water, SecondPres and the Acts4Youth boys became one, a family. We were all swimming, playing, splashing, and throwing sand at each other together. But the reason we became truly one today, is because we didn’t think and make an effort about who we were interacting with, it was natural. In order to learn and make new friends, and be a somewhat decent human being for this service activity (and it wasn’t as much as a service activity as it was fun) we had to make ourselves vulnerable; in a place of being rejected. But in the end that vulnerability is what made the Acts4Youth and SecondPres kids so close. We can only grow and learn if we put ourselves out there. We may fail a little, or a lot; but the things we gain from trusting each other are far greater than anything else.
Sophie Elisseeff, a youth at Second Presbyterian, is will a high school senior this fall. She was a co-leader of one of the four groups that worked at Walter P Carter Elementary/Middle School.