No D Day is an initiative started by diabetes blogger George Simmons over at Ninjabetic. He has proposed we diabetic writers write about something, anything other than our diabetes for one day. I think it’s a great idea because while our diabetes is involved in every part of our lives, we should celebrate all the other facets that make us who we are. So here is my No D Day post :)
I would like to write about an experience I had many years ago. I attended a summer camp called L.E.A.D (Leadership Education And Diversity). It was a phenomenal experience for me and impacted my life greatly. This camp begins with one woman, Dr. Martha Woodward and her husband at the time, Henry Woodward. In their fields they were like visionaries who had studied “the human condition” and had a passion for instilling in youth, a sense of responsibility and an awareness for those who are different. In fact, they came up with or looked up ways that would help young people open their eyes and look at each other without stereotypes, without fear, but rather, with love, tolerance, and understanding.
The first thing we did at this camp was to go through ice breakers that would loosen up even the tightest characters-such as myself. Then we watched a few funny skits and finally, got down to business. The week was spent in the woods doing fun but meaningful activities. One was a trust building activity where we were divided up into teams and each team had a chance at a different “puzzle” set up in the woods. The goal was to solve the puzzle or problem. I remember a lot of large chunks/logs of wood and climbing on top of someone’s shoulders to reach something at some point. The key of the exercises were to effectively work together. We had to listen to each other, decide on which idea to attempt, and then support each other while we figured out the puzzle. It was amazing to see people as young as 15 being so engaged and focused into working with others. Another thing we did was have a night where we all took turns presenting our different religions or faith beliefs. I learned so much about Mormons, Muslims, Jews, etc. I learned how we all want to be understood and how stereotypes do nothing but hurt us all.
One experience in particular was so huge for me that it lives on in my mind as if it had happened yesterday when in fact it happened over a decade ago. All 60-some of us campers were gathered outside of where we ate our meals and made to select one piece of colored paper out of a bag. When everyone had done this we were then led inside and instructed to sit according to the color paper we had. I sat at a fancy table with only 3 other people. Then at a larger table next to us, sat about 6 people. Next to them was another table with 9 people. Then there was another table with another 10 people. Then on the floor in front of all of us at tables, was everyone else. Nothing was explained to us, even though we were all hungry from our busy activities earlier that day and what was happening got many people frustrated and angry.
Two “waiters” showed up at my table and brought us water in goblets and asked us if we wanted coffee or juice or milk. Then they brought out bread and butter as an appetizer. We ate very uncomfortably as everyone else looked at us in confusion. Then we were brought our main meal. I don’t remember what this was but, it was good (although I didn’t eat much of it). Then all the others received their food. The table next to us got some meat, bread, and vegetables. They had a red table cloth. The table next to them had some bread and vegetables and there was no table cloth. The table next to them had some sliced tomatoes and some bread. The people on the floor all had a tiny bowl of rice. They had to eat it without any utensils.
Obviously we began to talk amongst ourselves and began thinking that this was some sort of “how the rest of the world eats experiment”. I felt sick to my stomach and only ate half of my dinner. I told the people at my table, 3 boys, “Hey, let’s give away some of our food to the people on the floor?” They liked the idea so we asked for seconds on clean plates and we took the plates over to our friends eating the rice. Then came our dessert. Cherry pie. We took that to the people on the floor as well. I didn’t have any of it.
Once everyone had ate we had discussion time. We were asked how we felt about everything and people debated their thoughts back and forth. One guy said that our table giving him food made him feel awful because first we ate our food and then gave away our seconds or our leftovers as he put it. Then others agreed with him. Some of those who agreed actually ate the cherry pie that I didn’t even touch. We were told that my table symbolized the United States and certain other very well off countries-and we were the minority. The next few tables symbolized how people eat according to a percentage breakdown (which is how this was all divied up) Then the people on the floor…they stood as the majority of people in the world. We might think of this group as symbolizing people from countries such as China and India and Russia and some of the countries in Africa where there are large numbers living in debilitating poverty.
I was absolutely shocked to discover that although I sometimes felt poor, I was far from it. My parents were professionals with college degrees and we lived in a nice house and we had more than enough of everything. To think that most people in the world had much less than me left me speechless. When I was asked why I came up with the idea of sharing the food I felt dumbfounded. It seemed an obvious answer and finally a friend sitting at my table said, “Why wouldn’t we share?”
To us kids it was an easy decision. Yet, for many of us living in what should be considered luxury, there seem to be many obstacles to prevent us from sharing more of what we have. How can we make it easier to share? How can we facilitate the process? After all, we eat more food than we need, we throw away enough food every day in the US to feed everyone in the world for a day, and we often feel we don’t have the power to change things. So what can we do?
We can start with ourselves. We can relax with all of the finger pointing for a minute and think about how our actions affect others. We can learn about how to live in a way that will have a positive ripple effect to others instead of a negative one. We can begin with a few small changes on ourselves and may find that we inspire others to do the same. We don’t have to wait for our government to change things for us. We can start on our own, right now, each of us.
Thanks to Camp Lead and all my camp friends. You are amazing people and I miss you so much. Thanks so much to my family-you’ve sheltered me from the bad but never from the truth.