Columbia Engineering 2015
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Position: Unit Leader
I remember lying on a hospital bed for an entire month during my second year of High School. A new specialist came in each week, only to inform me they don’t have any ideas as to what is wrong with me, but only that something is clearly wrong. I remember how exhausting it was for my mother, taking the bus to and from the hospital everyday after working in the city, just to hear her lethargic son complain about how much he wanted to go home. I remember the look on my dad’s face when the doctors said they’re beginning to suspect I have cancer. I remember how much composure he tried to maintain as they explained to me what the upcoming months would be like under chemotherapy. And fortunately, I remember the relief on their faces when the doctors told me it wasn’t cancer, but an autoimmune disease called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. I remember finally coming home to a backyard full of tall grass and weeds and a living room full of dust – a sign of how much time my family had sacrificed in that hospital for me.
This experience taught me not only that life has cruel ways of reminding us that it is painfully unfair, but that this unfairness often times affects those we love even more than it does us. I can’t imagine what it must feel like as a parent, facing not just the physical and emotional weight of cancer, but also trying to hold yourself up as a strong pillar for your children and help them understand what any of this means. I applied to be a CK Counselor this summer because I know what it means to be able to escape the world for one week, to meet new faces, and have the time of your life. I kesem for all of the children and parents who need a small break from the mountains they never requested to overcome.
I am so excited for this summer’s Camp Kesem, and I have a feeling the memories we make there are going to linger in our hearts long after camp has ended!
– THOR. (Note: must be spelt, and pronounced, in all caps with a period at the end.)
Columbia College 2015
Last year at our very first summer of Camp Kesem Columbia, I was the photographer. Being the photographer meant that I got to experience camp from both the perspectives of the counselors as well as the campers. One of the things that I saw was how scared and unsure some of the campers seemed when they got to camp on the first day. It is already difficult for children to have to understand that they have a family member who is sick and that what could happen next is very much uncertain. It is completely understandable that they are reluctant and pessimistic about having to leave their family to spend a week with complete strangers. One of the most beautiful experiences was seeing how quickly that changed. Within a couple of hours, the children were having such genuine fun meeting new friends with other campers as well as the counselors. They became extremely open-minded to learning new games and camp songs and began to feel completely comfortable with everyone else. When camp ended, every single camper expressed their wish to come back and how they couldn’t wait for next year. Camp Kesem allowed me to be a part of a community that brought happiness to children who are quickly finding out that unpredictable and difficult situations can happen at any time. I Kesem because I want to help children be happy!