When I thought about what I felt like writing today, all my mind could settle on was a past service trip to South Africa. And befitting of today, a Thursday, this will be a throwback.
South Africa was like a dream country. People's lives existed in conditions I'd only ever seen before in India and it seemed, much like in India, no one wanted to help. Except for the people I was staying with, no one much cared what went on in the townships. It was (and still is) a sort of "Don't ask, don't tell" deal.
In my three weeks there, I helped renovate and paint murals on three local preschools, we handed out thousands of meals to families in the area, we taught mothers to be makeshift teachers, and so much more. I even became great friends with people who started as classmates, and we had a lot more fun than anyone expects to have on a trip in a country with needs so dire.
For a day, we went on a safari, and on another we went to a wildlife preservation park. We got to see so many animals, but never the giraffes I'd been telling everyone I needed to see before we left. Finally, when we'd stopped in a local rest area to get some breathing room from our hot, cramped vans, a family of three giraffes passed us. It was serendipitous. Everyone looked to me simultaneously to see if I was as excited as they thought I would be, and I don't think my face disappointed.
When I look back on the pictures I took in that lovely country, I see how much my style of photography has changed since then. I've grown, I've taken different angles under my wing, and I edit things a whole lot differently now. But one thing that hasn't changed at all is the subject matter. There are about 600 pictures from that trip, and about a quarter are of giraffes (rightfully so) while the rest are of my new friends, other amazing animals, and the kids that grew to mean so much to us while we worked in the townships. It's comforting to see that some things never really change.
And, if you feel so inclined, check out ODFL, the organization my History teacher started that helped us get to South Africa.