Let me ask this question to start: what good is an experience if you learn nothing from it?

Brazil has come and passed, and now the Impact class is situated back to the environment of the classroom. It feels like only yesterday when Brazil seemed months away and everyone was anticipating the big trip. However, it is gone now, only for us to look forward to the future with the experience always being a part of us. Discussing this very thing in class, our professor talked about intercultural communications and told us to ask ourselves, “What’s next? What do I do with the things that I have learned or been challenged with?” For me personally, one of the things that I had been challenged with in Brazil was the constant environment of outgoing people coupled with the constant demands of service we had planned each day. For me, being an introvert, this was hard to handle, especially for a month straight which as a result constantly left me exhausted. From this trip, I learned I needed to grow my capacity to engage people and to be around people.

However, going back to my original questions, just because I go to Brazil and have this experience doesn’t necessarily mean I have changed or will change. That is up to me. For an experience to really affect me, I have to reflect on it, notice things I need to work on or learned that were produced from challenges, then consistently and intentionally implement what I learned into my life. The same goes for anything in life, just because I go to Impact 360 does not mean that I will be a changed person or be a better Christian. It is all what I do with the experiences I am given. This is why one of the principles which is extremely important and constantly repeated is: intentionality. Intentionality is learning to engage and take the opportunities around us and being purposeful with the time, people, and experiences put in our life.

I would always hear past alumni give advice along the lines of, “Make sure to take advantage of the staff or to really pay attention in class, etc. because I never did and that is something I regret…” Some of the past students, even though given all the tools, experiences, and people at their disposal to grow them into generation changers, stayed the same after Impact or didn’t grow as much as they could have. It all goes back to intentionality.

This is something that I must constantly remind myself with the little time I have left at Impact 360 and going into college. I think of this quote, “All men die, but very few truly live.” There are so many people our age that are not being intentional with their life and not seeking to grow. This is especially imperative in this generation and culture which is always changing and never stopping. We must be a generation that engages this culture which never stops growing so as to meet a changing culture. Our lives are always changing, never stopping, but we will be the ones to say “I will not let life pass me by,” and to be intentional in even the little things in our lives—because those are the people who truly change the world.

Written by Mark Gossage
Pictures by Grace Croley