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A Whole New Place This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Community service is not something most people look forward to doing. It can actually be interesting, though, if you are interacting with new faces in new places. We all see distant places on TV where the culture is different. The experience of being involved in a new environment with all kinds of people is like no other. That is why, when my school invited me to travel through poor sections of New York feeding the homeless in shelters, I couldn't say no.

Eight students and two teachers went on the trip. We stayed in a high school in New Rochelle, a city outside of New York City. We spent two nights on the cold library floor, and woke at dawn each morning to work in a soup kitchen. The shelter was located in Harlem, which is poorer than any place I know of in Massachusetts and perhaps the poorest section of the United States. The looks on these people's faces after you have fed them makes you feel great. At first they looked intimidating, but they really were nice people. Many were born into homeless families, while others had problems with alcohol or other drugs.

Most people who go to New York aren't looking forward to feeding its homeless. Places like the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and Radio City Music Hall seem more appealing. Sure the sightseeing is fun, but it is better to see a smile from someone you have helped than the face of the Statue of Liberty. Interacting with new faces in a whole new environment is more of a learning experience than a chore. Most of the homeless people had good advice about life and how they chose the wrong path.

Most of the time, community service is everything but fun. No, I'm not going to tell you that feeding the homeless is fun, but it is important. And don't just rush to the closest soup kitchen and begin feeding people, helping the homeless can be done many ways. The experience of being in New York and making people happy is one that I will never forget. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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