“I was devoted to something that I could pour my heart into.” This is Rachel’s Story.
Back in 2016, as a junior at Southern Nazarene University, I spent the summer in Argentina, enrolled at the University of Vienna, and visited almost 20 countries.
While I was in Argentina, I stayed in Moreno– a suburb of Buenos Aires. Argentina introduced me to some of the most kind and hospitable people I’ve ever met, but it also opened my eyes to the privileges we take for granted in America every single day.
After Argentina, I headed off to London. Of the many courses I was enrolled in, one dealt with understanding the current refugee crisis. I learned so much in the classroom — but the experience that had the most profound impact on me was when I met with Farsi refugees and listened to stories about what life is like when you’re displaced and about the conflicts at refugee camps.
Of course, being abroad was a privilege and a truly amazing experience. However, no one prepares for when you come home and everyone else has moved along in their lives and you begin to feel like a stranger in your own backyard. 2017 started off rough and it constantly felt like it just kept getting worse. I felt so lost. I was struggling and I couldn’t recognize myself.
But with less than six months left in my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to ONE. I felt it was finally something I could focus my time and energy on. I wrote to my ONE Campus Manager, “I’ve been praying for what’s next to come in my life. After Europe, I’ve been so stuck in routine that I was craving something new and ONE is so perfect for me!”
It was refreshing, to say the least. I was devoted to something that I felt if I poured my heart into, I would feel that same happiness that radiated from me just one year prior.
Over the course of the summer, we made phone calls to Senators and wrote many letters. I found meaning in these actions; this activism helped me escape the mundane.
Then in July, I received an invitation to join my fellow ONE Campus Leaders at a student-only summit at ONE’s offices in Washington. It was such an incredible experience and I met so many wonderful people. (Shout out to Abby from Idaho.) Not only did I walk away with friendships, I walked away with the knowledge to help me be the best Campus Leader I could be during my remaining time at SNU.
When I arrived back on campus, I became the face of ONE at SNU, starting at the university fair. I was overwhelmed by the amazing responses I had from fellow students who wanted to join and learn more about ONE. I felt that spark of happiness once more.
After my first tabling event, I realized just how much fun it is. Hearing people share what they are passionate about was incredible. The fair gave me motivation to get a chapter started on my campus. I reached out to faculty and staff members and we came up with a game plan on how to engage students. I met with my university’s spiritual development office and ONE became a service group for the fall semester of 2017. My chapter met on Monday nights and we wrote letters to our Oklahoma congressmen.
Before graduation, a few of my friends, ONE activists, and I delivered letters to Senator James Lankford. In total, we handed over 50 letters! It was such an incredible feeling knowing my hard work from tabling had paid off.
Ringing in 2018 was a special moment because this year, ONE has given me a platform to share my passion. Getting involved helped me escape the mundane and ignite a desire for change, not only here in the States, but around the world.