Leaving My True Home

I have been struggling to write this post. With so many mixed emotions, I cannot seem to put my reflection into the right words. I feel grateful, yet sad. Never have I been more alive, joyful, and worry-free. Truly liberating, this what I have been searching for my whole life. I realized how much Americans stress and how this can truly be damaging to the health of a person. We want more and more, when we really need much less. What we need is human connection, not more expensive toys. We need to unplug and open our eyes. We need to have trust in the stranger next to us because that stranger may change our lives.


View from my dorm room

With little service in the village, it was quite nice not having to use my phone. I tended to notice the beauty in life so much more. I used my senses more, allowing me to feel more humanly, something I think I have been lacking since coming to Santa Clara where I am connected to my computer for so many hours in the day.


A small group of the volunteers

I discovered what makes me joyful. A short list includes: people giving random acts of kindness, having a curiosity in others, sharing past memories, understanding others, learning from people, making mistakes, caring less about the small things, and telling others the way I actually feel. I guess I felt as if I had a purpose there. I stopped searching and accepted my environment. I finally let my guard down and was able to just live as me, the person I wanted to always be.


Orientation Coordinator, Miko

I learned more about my spirituality. I have developed a belief in a stronger force that can bring certain people together. They may enter your life only for a short while, but enough to guide you along your path. Certain people in the Philippines made me realize that I needed to be on this Earth, whether it was to help others, to create conversations, or simply for my presence. I was finally enough for people and felt no judgement. I didn’t need to compare myself to others and was able to accept myself and all my quirks and insecurities. The pressures of school, of peers, of family had gone away. In the U.S., status can take away what we want to be, stray us from our passions, and put us on the dull, grinding track of making money to make money.



My environmental coordinator, Mary Jane

The Philippines gave me the space to create relationships, work on developing my passions, and reinsured that everything was going to be okay. I saw so many people struggling here, so many people suffering, yet they used their families and friends to help them in these times. Back home, the more you struggle, the more you are looked down upon, for not being successful and the perfect human society needs, or secretly nobody actually wants. I learned that the first-world worries of the U.S. were minuscule in the grand scheme of things. I will return to the Philippines again because this is where I feel I truly belong. I came in with so many worries and left with worries that actually mattered. Worries about people who were truly suffering. I came in wanting a change in pace and searching for a more balanced lifestyle and left with a different outlook on life in general. What has changed about me? I think it is that I finally feel free from the judgment of not being number 1, the individualistic competitive nature of our society, the desire to conform. I am free to be different and to focus my energy on what matters. I am free.


Riding on top of a tricycle

Kaitlin Wheeler


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