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Maine VolunteerFare

Notes from a College Student Volunteer

Published October 31, 2006

Notes from a College Student Volunteer

by: Keith Raho

Excerpt Taken from the Benedict School Bright Futures Newsletter

My name is Keith Raho, and I am an English major completing my junior year at Saint Anselm College. Three weeks ago, I participated in Spring Break Alternative, in Ridgely, Maryland, at the Benedictine School for children with disabilities.

The school is a state of the art, nearly self-sufficient establishment; well equipped with an infirmary, greenhouse, gymnasium, dorms, pools and even an embroidery shop… located in a very rural and flat farm setting.

Looking back on the week, and also looking at the changes that I feel in myself today, makes me realize that something amazing happened in Maryland.

Now, unlike most life-changing experiences I have had in my life, this trip was the first where I realized that my life was going to change immediately after the first day. An element of this was the fact that our group was foreign to this town and school, but we were instantly brought in with the children as “part of the tribe.” We

were 9 hours away from home, 13 hours if you drive 124 miles in the wrong direction, but were treated by the staff and kids with such a high level of familiarity and energy that many moving experiences were able to occur throughout the week.

About a third of the time I spent in the school was in a vocational classroom, where I worked one-on-one

with various children ranging from ages 14 to 21, completing reading and writing comprehension lessons...

This week has helped me see that life has no disability. Philosophically, my life has no more value than theirs, because I am no more alive than they are. My book knowledge has no vital or

necessary element in living. Life is life, no matter how it looks, and humanity is humanity no matter how it walks, talks or acts. I love these kids, I feel cool being represented to adults by them, and I feel proud to realize this

basic world, which I never fully acknowledged, prior to this trip.

To read more about Keith's expereince visit: