Gap is a chance for people to break out of the norm. A chance to gain new skills and views through first-hand experiences in different places while discussing a variety of problems. This semester-long experience really began to teach me what community is and what problems are facing different communities. This has fueled me to set new goals to help in the ways I can. Before the Gap experience, I knew I wanted to help, but I was not exactly sure how to help. Not only did the Gap experience teach me the many ways I can help, but it also gave me new perspectives and a broader knowledge of many topics that are new to me.
Some of the topics we learned about were poverty and the way it affects people in different places, women’s rights, immigrant rights, the rights of indigenous people and many other topics. The one topic that I had previous exposure to, but was really emphasized during GAP, was the fight for civil rights and liberties that many people have had taken from them. Before GAP I was ignorant of just how many people have had their civil rights violated. Everyone from citizens that broke the law to non-citizens attempting to better their lives are facing the problem of their rights being violated.
I witnessed some violations of rights when we went to El Paso, Texas. We had the opportunity to meet with and talk to many different people. We heard both sides of the story, the immigrants, and the border patrols. The conclusion that I landed on from this experience was that the immigrants don’t get treated like people at all within our system. They get treated worse than animals in some cases. In no world is it right to treat people like this. The fact that El Paso was not the only place I visited and witnessed these rights being violated makes me upset. The fact that we live in a place where everyone wants to live a happy life but the majority of people face some kind of hardship is wrong.
This is what fuels me and throughout this semester and my life, I witnessed many violations like these. From Chicago’s St. Leonards rehabilitation center to El Paso’s struggle for the rights of immigrants, I have been able to broaden my views and knowledge about certain topics because of the ability to analyze and discuss the issues at hand with other peers. Since I have had the opportunity to talk and discuss with peers. I have been able to see things from new perspectives that I have not seen before these trips. The Gap experience has done what it is intended for, it has helped me understand a broader view of life and the people we share life with, regardless of differences. People have a tendency to only stay within their communities but Gap has taught me how to break out of one community and understand that everyone is one big community. I have gained a sense of selflessness because of this idea that people are just one big community.
Now because of the knowledge I was gracefully able to learn, I have also been inspired by it. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer for a long time, however, my dilemma was what kind of lawyer would I become? I also knew I wanted to help people who suffer at the hands of unjust laws. Gap showed me that what really gets me going is people facing unfairness in due process, so my overall question was finally answered. I want to be a lawyer that assists in cases where the individual has been treated unfairly by the criminal justice system and fight alongside them for proper justice.
Now that I have been able to figure out the longtime goal I have been thinking about the short term and asking how can I get involved now? There are a few programs within the area of the school which I see to be a good starting point. The one I was able to look into more was JOSHUA. It is a program in door county that focuses on building public and private relationships between community members. Once united they work to build the community by identifying certain social issues and injustices and taking action about them. JOSHUA is about bringing justice through holding those who are accountable, accountable. I want to start here, but I was thinking what about even closer to home? What can I do within the schools and surrounding areas community to raise awareness and fight for civil rights violations? The first thing that came to mind was starting a club within the school. The goal would simply be to discuss, bring awareness to, and to fight alongside others for civil rights. We would not only focus on fighting but discussing political policies and bills and discovering the politicians behind them. The next goal after understanding the facts at hand would be to take action and be persistent enough that change happens. There are too many problems people face by themselves, it’s time they stop standing alone.