Monday, October 28, 2013

Service Reflection: Rachel Hallett

It seems like practically every female student at Gonzaga has recently uploaded some sort of artsy photo on Instagram of her and her girlfriends, as well as however many guys she could convince to come, at Green Bluff, a well-known Spokane tradition during the fall months. Be it posing with a random pumpkin, capturing the sunset across the harvest fields, or sorority posing in front of a tractor, girls always seem to “love fall.”

I am completely guilty of this previous description. Prior to last Monday when I went to Green Bluff with my Artisans mentee, I had already been twice this fall, once in September to pick peaches and once in October to pick apples. And, of course, both of these instances, an Instagram photo was to follow. However, Monday October 21st was one day at Green Bluff for the record books, one that will have a hard time being beat in my future trips up North.

My mentee is practically nonverbal. He can only communicate in muffled, soft utterances. When I ask a question, he usually can ramble on to himself for a few sentences, but I am barely able to pick up a word here and there. When he is overwhelmed, he plugs in headphones, completely cutting off any form of possible communication between the two of us. Usually during my 2 hour service slot, he and I color, put together a puzzle, or watch a movie while munching on popcorn. Most days, I leave the Artisans site without a sense of accomplishment, thinking to myself that I am missing a sort of connection and that I am not doing enough to effectively mentor this young man. Yet, something about my mentee at Green Bluff was different. Maybe it was the altitude, maybe it was the beautiful fall day in Spokane. But one thing was for sure, my mentee was having a blast. He ran to the corn maze, dodging left and right while (unbeknownst to him) retracing the same route we had already traveled at least 3 or 4 times.

He ran to the blow-up slide, letting out a loud howl as he slid down. He ran through the field of pumpkins, picking up a new one each time we entered a new row. He scarfed down his pumpkin donut as well as the remaining pieces of mine. He cast a smile that I had not ever seen before.

While my mentee and I did not say much during the bus ride to and from Green Bluff or during our excursions on the property, it did not matter in the slightest bit. Sometimes, nothing needs to be said in order for one to know how much their presence means. Although verbally expressing to someone, be it a loved one or my Artisans mentee, how much you admire them can show a level of friendship, a simple smile captured in a pumpkin field, squeal on an inflatable slide, or hurried excitement in an autumn corn maze says the exact same thing without saying anything at all.

-Rachel Hallett

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