Each summer, we feature TWO outstanding essays from our Rampers. Here’s our Week 2 Featured Essay!
Week 2 Ramper Essay:
“Through working for Yachad in the Ramp It Up camp, I have learned many things. What I have taken away ranges from personal improvement, such as learning many new construction related skills, to a broader knowledge on life with disabilities or life with poverty.
One of the main points I have learned from this camp is how something as simple as a ramp can hold a community together. By building this ramp, I have learned how it will allow Ms. Jackson to hold and keep her social and community ties intact when she would otherwise be stuck in her house. However, the ramp does not only strengthen the community on the side of Ms. Jackson. Our own community, the Jewish community, was strengthened by building this ramp. In building this ramp, I put myself in situations that would not have otherwise occurred with people I would not have otherwise met. This increased the bond between the members of our community and built a bridge between out community and Ms. Jackson’s community, evident when Mia (Ms. Jackson’s daughter) worked with us for many days as though she was part of the community. And that is because Mia was a part of the community. Through building the ramp, Mia and Ms. Jackson’s family were accepted into our community and vice versa.
As I built this ramp I also learned and had many realizations about poverty and low-income families. I was able to clearly see as I built the ramp that someone in a low income facility, in a low income neighborhood is not inherently bad due to their situation. I guess this goes to the nature vs. nurture debate, and it was made that argument less clear for me. I can no longer clearly take either side. Although, the people in Ms. Jackson’s neighborhood, or at least family, were amiable in every way, that could not and should not be assumed to apply to the whole neighborhood. I realized this as I was listening to the radio and a story about I-Phone thefts and metro stations occurred. I could not think this was a coincidence when they mentioned more I-Phones being stolen at the Capitol Heights station, Ms. Jackson’s neighborhood’s station, more than any other stations mentioned. I still do not know whether this is due to poverty causing a higher percentage of people with a predilection to crime, or whether the poverty sets people in a situation where they believe they need to resort to crime. Either way, I have learned by building this ramp that poverty may be a negative effect, sometimes resulting in people resorting to crime, however it does not necessarily effect everyone negatively, such as the Jackson family, if there are people or organizations like Yachad that are willing to help improve their lives.
On a personal level, by building this ramp I gained many skills related to construction that I would not have otherwise. I think I drilled more during these two weeks than in my whole life prior to this camp. People like Roy (the contractor) and Pastor Jose (the carpenter) were able to teach me many skills which I can apply throughout the rest of my life. Due to the knowledge I gained through building this ramp of cutting, drilling, digging, mixing, hammering and more, I will be able to more successfully contribute and apply these skills to other community service projects in my future.”