Your shoes were made for storytelling
It's often said that walking a mile in someone else's shoes allows us to see the world through a different perspective, but perhaps catching a glimpse into someone's life is less about walking a mile in their shoes, and more about sharing the memories that have been lived in them.
The shoes Lee University students wear are as diverse as the places they travel to, and each adventure can be summed up through different stories.
He drove eight hours for a pair of shoes that were left in a Walmart parking lot.
During his month long road trip across America, freshman Daniel Trabold and his sister Jessie traveled along the west coast, visiting popular tourist destinations and several national parks along the way.
'We got to Seattle and I was like 'I don't have shoes,' so I just left Jessie there for the day and drove all the way back,' Daniel said.
Daniel wears size 17 shoes, which he orders online because his shoe size isn't carried in stores. Since he and his sister were traveling for a month, ordering new shoes wasn't a practical option, nor was buying them from a store. Although it took a whole day, Daniel said it was worth it to drive back for his shoes.
When asked to think of a memory that matters to them, people may not always have a souvenir, picture or keepsake to show for it, but what they may have are the shoes that were on their feet.
When senior Jessie Trabold was packing for her road trip with her brother, she brought along her summer hiking shoes expecting warm weather. When the weather unexpectedly turned out to be cold for the majority of her trip, she resorted to wearing wool socks with her summer hiking Keens.
'We drove through the night, and we got to where we were staying ' a little town just before Yosemite ' and it [was] snowing and freezing cold,' Jessie said. 'There was dirt on my shoes from being in the desert, and then it was snowing ' That was probably my favorite thing.'
Sophomore Oscar Palin spent last summer working with Appalachia Service Project in Newport, Tennessee. There, he spent his days working on emergency home repairs for members of the local community.
'The relationships I built in these shoes were probably the most memorable experience about my time,' Palin said.
Palin found friendship in one homeowner, Nancy, while repairing her house.
'She actually sent me a Christmas card,' Palin said. ' [It said], 'I just want to take this time to thank you for everything you did for me this past summer, for listening to me ' I'm so enjoying my new bath and living room floor, you made all of this happen for me, and I can't thank you enough.' '
Palin said a person's shoes tell a lot about how they spend their time and what they choose to invest in.
'If those shoes are spent in the service of others ' or sharing coffee with a friend ' it tells you a lot about how they experience life,' Palin said.
Senior Alexis Mejia pointed out that his shoes go everywhere his feet take him, including the places that add meaning to his life.
'When you have a favorite shoe and it's all broken'has holes in it'you kind of feel sad. But you know that you've been places with them,' Mejia said.
Mejia wore his gray Keds to Willis Tower when he visited Chicago in December. As he stepped out on the glass deck, everything he saw from the first floor, the cars, the people, appeared far away from 103 floors up.
'You could see everything,' Mejia said. 'And it made me feel like this life is not necessarily about me ' but it's about others.'
Sometimes, shoes are tied to stories of the vast differences and yet striking similarities between cultures.
Sophomore Ant Sandefer traveled to Scotland with only four-days notice to work at a church camp last summer. There, Sandefer worked alongside people from Spain, Scotland and various parts of India and Africa.
'Each of us had such different stories, such different backgrounds, but we were able to appreciate everybody's different backgrounds,' Sandefer said. 'And even though you're different, you can still work together. It was a beautiful experience.'
Senior Josh Forakis brought his pair of blue Vans on a trip to Greece with his family last summer.
One of his most significant memories happened the first day he was there, Forakis said.
'I was groggy ' and it was 3:00 in the morning in my mind, but it was daylight and all the guys at the Mercy Center [said], 'It's Wednesday ' we play soccer on Wednesdays,' ' Forakis said. 'And we went out to this kind of abandoned soccer field, and I played soccer with all of the guys who play every week. 'They didn't have grass fields, it was just shredded tire bits, so [they] got in my shoes because there are a lot of holes in them.'
Forakis was exhausted and said he hadn't played soccer in years, but he still had fun getting to know the people he played the game with.
'Even though I didn't speak the same language as any of those guys, I felt their personalities through playing the game.'