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Today was our first day in Flint! We helped build rain barrels from scratch using old pickle barrels from a nearby factory, and we helped deliver and distribute the barrels. As we entered the city to start our work day, I was shocked by how empty it looked. There were old, two-story homes but all of them were empty and lifeless. Later, I learned that there used to be many families and the city was thriving before the crisis occurred two years ago. As the day went on, I got to meet many residents of Flint. The first was Sam, who walked us through what we were going to do the whole day. She is a resident of Flint and actively took a stand to make her city better.

While it was fun to drill and build the rain barrels, my experience with the Flint residents was the most enlightening, as I finally got to put a face to the people I was trying to help. The endless ‘Thank You’s’ and shocked expressions after learning that we were all the way from Florida were rewarding. I felt like I made a large impact on these people’s lives. The upbeat spirit of the citizens made me inspired to do my best. They fought through unimaginable hardships, and came out with smiles on their faces. As I met more people throughout the day, I realized that there were two ways to react to misfortunes, mope around and hope for the best, or be like Sam and make a move- if not you, then who?

– Alekya Lingamaneni