Eyewitness Delbarton: My Operation Smile Experience
Conor White '13
Posted September 10, 2012
This past summer Conor White '13 received the Davis Shick Award at Operation Smile's international conference in Washington DC. Prior commitments prevented him from attending the conference but plenty of his Delbarton peers were present and heard both Delbarton and their schoolmate praised for supporting Operation Smile's mission to bring facial surgery to children around the world. Here is Conor's take on his involvement with Delbarton's Op Smile chapter:
Three years ago when I was a freshman I wanted to get involved at Delbarton but did not know where to jump in. At Delbarton it can be over whelming because there is so much going on. However when I read an article about a students involvement with Operation Smile I was inspired to sign up. The article helped me to realize that Operation Smile was a club/activity for me. (See Conor's photos here.)
As a freshman I attended meetings and began to figure out what Operation Smile was all about. I raised money and awareness for this great organization. As a sophomore I wanted to expand my involvement and decided to attend the annual International Leadership Conference in Beijing. This was a great experience as I met kids from all over the world. We worked together to enhance our leadership skills while learning more about Operation Smile.
Junior year I went to Virginia for a weekend of mission training. In Virginia I learned about the opportunities that were available to me as a student participating in actual mission involvement. It was at that meeting that I signed up to fully participate and was assigned to a mission in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. As you can imagine I was excited and yet slightly anxious about going to the Middle East under the circumstances of our world today. My parents were even more anxious and we discussed the possibilities of asking for a different location.
Over the past 3 years Operation Smile had prepared me and I was more than ready to make the trip and take on the challenges that the mission all entailed. I accepted the mission. This summer in June I left for the Middle East. I was one of two students that was part of a 50 person team made up of professionals from all over the world. We delivered a 9-day mission to the people of Jordan and the surrounding areas of the Middle East.
To witness a child's eyes light up with delight as they looked in the mirror at themselves just hours after surgery is not something I will soon forget. I know we changed many lives while fulfilling our mission goals. As a person, through this amazing opportunity, my life has been changed as well. While in Jordan, I visited Syrian refugee camps and orphanages. I saw things that you can not capture on CNN or in Time magazine. I saw people who could be any one of us, just living in a very different world. These are experiences that cannot be topped.
The gift that Operation Smile has given to me through their programs and opportunities has left me so very grateful. I am so honored to have received the Davis Shick award at this years International Student Leadership Conference in Washington DC this past August. I am humbled to be associated with such a wonderful man, I actually never thought of what I was doing as work or sacrifice or even a bit risky. I have really enjoying myself, every step of the way and truly believe that Every Child Deserves A Smile.
Perhaps sharing my story and a few photos may in some way inspire other boys at Delbarton to jump in. If so, and if you have any questions, email me!