HOW I FEEL ABOUT SENDING MY CHILD AWAY ON A WEEK-LONG SERVICE TRIP TO APPALACHIA

  1. He is going to Colcord, West Virginia, which is in Raleigh County.
  2. He will be building handicap ramps, modifying porches, and making small home repairs for people in the community whose lives have been affected by natural disaster and/or the disaster of poverty.
  3. The Wikipedia page for Colcord is only about five sentences long. The only thing I know: they don't have a post office. They don't have a grocery store. They don't have a lot of things.
  4. They have my kid, and all his privilege: an olive-skinned, brown-eyed boy, living in America, with at least a dozen relatives on each side of his family tree with the means to give him a financial hand.
    I know because they have helped me.
  5. They have my kid. And his big heart—his adventures and intentions, his fears and misgivings—all wrapped in a bundle of nerves and padded with my promises that it "will be okay."
    You are doing a hard thing for one week, I tell him. Be open to this changing you.
  6. He will probably never fully appreciate that he has been on a school scholarship since the age of three. He doesn't know about all the things I've sold over the years just to keep the lights on. Or how many of his hospital bills have been written off because I knew how to apply for financial aid.
    Most of his hardship is invisible—and, let's face it—mitigated by MY privilege.
  7. I want him to know that there is a larger landscape than the one he sees. There is a reality different than the one he chooses to order up and view on that tiny screen he's always staring at. I want him to understand what his/my/our life would look like without every single good thing that has come our way.
  8. I want his eyes to be opened.
  9. ************************************
  10. List note: this has been in my drafts folder—-he's back! It was a dirty, gritty, beautiful experience and he did return with an...infestation...🐜 😩 On the bright side, he learned how to play cards, dig post holes, and survive on Sunbutter sandwiches. 🏆 And he met some wonderful people.