Looking back: the Biloxi experience

A group of volunteers push over a slab of sidewalk during their Spring Break in Pass Christian, Miss. to help rebuild the city. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

The Biloxi trip was an experience I will not forget. I am a non-traditional graduate student, and I thought I would be out of place with so many young people. However, they had the opposite reaction to me. I was respected as a mom, and I felt that the young people I was around were just like my own.

I knew there was a reason for my going to Biloxi. I did not know what it was; I just knew I had to be there.

The first few days were met with cultural differences, which were worked out instantaneously. I stayed in a tent with 11 young ladies. Seven were African American, like myself, two were Egyptian, one was Palestinian and three were white — what a culturally diverse tent C5 was. But we were all there for the same purpose: To give of ourselves to help others.

I feel that in so many ways spiritually I was blessed by the people in Mississippi, more than I blessed them. How fortunate I am to have a roof over my head, to know where my next meal is coming from, to have clothes on my back and my family intact. Myself and a group of other students worked at a school and a community center. I could not believe the happiness in these children, some who had lost everything, including parents. Their smiles were still so beautiful, and they were so happy we were there.

I give thanks and credit for George Garrison. He was a blessing to us all and one of the true leaders to the students. The 20 or so black students who went to Biloxi — I am so proud of you and your character. These are the true leaders of tomorrow. They managed to keep their heads on straight, even though it was rough at times because they were truly the minority on the trip. The devastation was unimaginable, but there was definitely a difference made, which went both ways.

I know that everyone who went on the Biloxi trip came back changed in some kind of great way. Even different obstacles didn’t deter what we were there for, and I feel we are all better people because of the trip. No matter what nationality we are, we proved that we were willing to make a difference, and we did. So students who went — cheers to you.

— Rene Holmes, liberal studies graduate student student

During the duration of this trip I had the opportunity to learn many different things. This trip was a chance for people with the same passion to make a difference in other people’s lives, not just their own. We had to put aside our differences and act for the better cause. This trip was a chance to do something good for the community and the environment. I had to test my limits mentally, physically and spiritually.

While going down to Pass Christian and Biloxi, Mississippi, we had to endure a long bus ride. We arrived on Sunday morning in Pass Christian where we were stationed. We unpacked our clothes in the army tents, which could hold about 15 people, where we had to sleep. We got a chance to visit a Vietnamese Church in East Biloxi. We helped the members of the church by bringing them an office printer, along with Bibles that were donated.

During the trip, we had to test our physical strengths. There were many days that we had to lift sheet rock, metal bar and other heavy materials. George Garrison and I had to test our mental strength because many of the days we had to work through lunch and dinner. We had to stop what we were doing many days, because the sites didn’t have the right supplies to work on the house or yard that day. It took much time and hard work to keep each site with the right amount of tools and supplies that they needed.

I had to take a step back and look at life during the trip. This trip was a big eye-opener for me and many of the people who went. There were homes torn down. There were cars and trees just sitting inside of people’s homes. People had to sleep on the beach because they had no place to live. To get some food, they had to depend on someone else to feed them a meal. There were people working on hundreds of houses, trying to rebuild what life they can. We had to eat at a soup kitchen, where sometimes we waited an hour or two for food.

I had to realize that my life is blessed, and I need to stop taking things for granted. I also realized that I can eat whenever I want to at home, but the question is am I hungry when I eat, or do I just eat because it’s there? I have many blessings in my life, and it is my job to give blessings back to someone else. This was an experience that I will never forget. I have taken Biloxi and the heart of its people with me, and I will keep them with me every day.

— Daniel Calloway, business management technology graduate student