Gratitude: A Student’s Perspective
During such a chaotic time, I never thought I would feel so thankful. Although we were forced out of our homes and witnessed terrifying sights, the kindness of others has been the most overwhelming part of it all.
The first random act of kindness happened just minutes after leaving our home. As we were sitting in gridlock traffic just five minutes away from our home, a teenage boy knocked on our vehicle window. We were unsure of his motive because we were all so panicked but we cautiously rolled down our window anyways. To our surprise, he was making sure we had enough water and food for our journey. Mind you, he was also stuck in this traffic trying to flee. That is the part that really opened my eyes. While the rest of the town was trying to get out and save their lives, this boy wasn’t thinking about himself. He was concerned about the people around him and took the time to walk down the street, knocking on people’s windows, ensuring everyone was prepared.
Many hours down the road, we made it to Athabasca where we had booked a hotel in advance for the night. As we were checking in, the girl at the desk told us about an evacuation centre not too far away that would be ready to visit in the morning. At this time it was four in the morning. In a mere four hours, the centre was stocked with donations and people were still arriving. There were clothes, toiletries, food; everything we could have possibly needed. Complete strangers were giving everything they had to help up during this time and it was heartwarming. The workers were more than happy to help and volunteer their free time when they could have been doing anything else. The town of Athabasca has the most caring, warmhearted people. I would have never met them had this tragedy not happened.
After settling down in Calgary, I received an email from my physics teacher outlining an assignment I could do to improve my mark. Back home I had a tutor for physics so this wouldn’t be a problem, but here in Calgary I didn’t have any supplies or anyone able to help me. So my mother and I headed down to Staples to buy some new school supplies. As we were walking through the aisles, an employee heard us talking about home and gave us an address for a place that was giving free school supplies to Fort McMurray students. I was given a free backpack filled with paper, pens and binders. The generosity of these people who put stuff like this together astounded me. Now that I had my supplies, my mom was determined to find me some help. She called a nearby school in Calgary and asked if I could come in to ask some questions about concepts I didn’t understand. They said yes. When I showed up, the physics teacher and I sat down one-on-one and he went through the assignment with me, going over every question. He also gave me a formula sheet and a calculator since I didn’t have those either. This man helped me during his spare time for an hour and a half when he could’ve been doing something else. When we were finished, he offered to me to come back again the following week, in case I needed more help. The generosity and patience of this man was very much appreciated and helped me a lot during this time.
My perspective on humanity has changed throughout this experience. While watching the news, you’re not told often about the caring, generous things that happen nowadays.We only hear about the corrupt, inhumane acts that go on every single day. This first hand experience has really opened my eyes and shown me humans do care. People have huge hearts and if you’re in need of something, ten people will have their hands out offering you what they have. There are a couple bad apples, but you cannot focus on them because that takes the focus away from the majority offering their time and belongings.
If a disaster, or emergency breaks out again, I will be on the front lines just like so many strangers were for us. I want to be able to provide people with a little bit of comfort and safety during a hardship, as so many people did for the citizens of Fort McMurray. I now know how big of a difference a little generosity makes and I will be ready to give what I have if another disaster like this ever happens.