One of the key components of being a holistic pre-med student is connection. To connect with people who are much different than you are. To understand how others live their lives. One of the ways I love to connect is to give back to my community and volunteer to help various organizations. I have been to many Saturday morning outings with the most giving group who prepares, packages, and distributes food, toiletries, and clothing to the poor and marginalized people of Detroit.

I woke up at 4 am to get ready, pick up a few friends, and head out for an hour drive to the church who prepares for the line of displaced people waiting for us in Detroit. The event I look forward to the most: connecting. There is always that one person who shows up every Saturday morning not for the food, not for the clothes, but to talk. Just to have someone who has open ears, a smile, and reassurance. With a grin from ear to ear, and a sincere “how are you?” I met David.

David has been on the streets for 30 years. He’s adapted to this lifestyle. He knows how to survive – but doesn’t have any friends. Just people who come and go – and that’s how the streets usually are, brutal. After an hour of conversation, a little bit about me and a little bit about him, David says, “If I could go back, I would get an education and change lives. Never give up on your dreams Christina. You are going to do great things in medicine and hopefully give back to the homeless people in Detroit. As humble as you are, I know you will make a difference; I know it.”

Connection. To give up a few hours of sleep and give breakfast to someone who hasn’t eaten since yesterday. To give up a few hours of sleep and give a mother a pair of gloves for her newborn baby. To give up a few hours of sleep and listen to someone’s story. Am I giving, or receiving? Did I give David comfort or did he instill comfort in me?

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