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Erin Johnson – Reflection 1

It’s been two days and I feel like I’m still processing the people I met, the stories I heard, and the words and pictures I saw on our first full day in Memphis. We spent the morning exploring the National Civil Rights Museum. This was a place I’ve never been, but already feel like I need to go back to. It was an experience that left me wanting to know more, but feeling like I didn’t have any more room in my brain to process it.  It was a place that was rich with history, but also showcased so much hatred and violence that it left my head spinning. I struggled with how to feel. I experienced just about every mad, sad, and negative emotion in the book and ultimately left feeling guilty. I felt guilty that when I was walking around this museum, I was walking around as a descendent of the people on the wrong side.

As the day went on we went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the feeling of guilt just got worse. I walked around the hospital and saw kids holding teddy bears being pulled in red wagons and followed by IV machines. I kept repeating over and over in my head “this isn’t fair.” Why them? Why was I born healthy and they were born sick? Why these parents? Why do they now have to worry about chemotherapy treatments and not the ABC’s and 123’s? As I chatted with one of the St. Jude employees about the new construction on their campus I mentioned that I felt sad that they needed more space. In my mind more buildings meant that there were more kids with cancer. She reminded me that the real sad part is when the kids with cancer can’t get treatment because there isn’t enough space. So, the construction means that more kids can be cured, more research can be conducted, and more lives can be saved. While this positive outlook lifted my spirits a little bit, I still ended the day with a lump in my throat and feeling like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.