Rivier seeks to transform hearts and minds to serve the world. It is at the core of our mission statement and central to the work we all do. Today was our last full day in camp. Kemit, a native St. Croixan and graduate school friend of Dr. Stake joined us for an afternoon lecture. He currently works for the Nature Conservancy and he came to talk to us about the Conservancy’s efforts both in the USVI and worlwide on reef rehabilitation. Students were focused and attentive and the discussion really brought this week full circle for them. It is apparent that they have begun to think globally and with the attitude of “what can I do”.
Tonight as we sat around the campfire, the students invited the staff of Viers to join them and with humor and a whole lot of sincerity, they read the poem they wrote to thank everyone at VIERS. They went around the circle and each one talked about the high points of their week here in St. John. There was plenty of laughter, some confessions, but most importantly transformation. These young people this evening aren’t the same young people that arrived a week ago. They have challenged themselves in ways they didn’t think possible. They have made new friends. They have begun to think about the world in a different way. They have stepped out of their comfort zones and found it to an interesting place to be. It has been an immense pleasure for Dr. Stake and myself to get to know these young people and to witness their transformations. We fly home tomorrow..a little tired, suitcases full of salty dirty clothes, but hearts and minds open to new possibilities.
Students have been slipping me small notes all day with a few carefully chosen words to sum up their experience here at VIERS. Tonights blog will end with their words. Please keep following the blog for a few more days as I will begin to post many of the photos that captured our trip upon my return home.
Jessica: It is important to think about the life outside of yourself.
Ashley P: You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it and have great friends to support you.
Ashley C: No matter where you go and who you are with, you can make a difference.
Cassandra: Never forget to take life slowly and observe what is around you. Learning about others helps you learn about yourself.
Danielle: I will no longer sleep late, I did so much before 10 am everyday! It was awesome!
Chelsea: I am so much more appreciative of what I do have. It makes me want to earn my degree and teach in areas of the world that don’t have as much. I want to give back.
Ariel: I never thought about energy and water conservation before this week and certainly hadn’t thought about coral reefs. This was so important.
Mary: This experience opened my eyes to the little ways to make a difference in the world just by protecting our reefs, conserving water and using energy responsibly.