During my sophomore year of high school I took the most life-changing trip of my life. I signed up for the school-offered Alternative Spring Break trip and before I knew it, I was on one of two Greyhound busses heading to New Orleans, Louisiana with over 60 people from my school. None of them I considered to be my friends, but at the end of the trip my perspective was greatly changed.
I slept most of the way to Louisiana and we arrived at our campsite around 5am. We unloaded our bags into the cabins, got changed into our work clothes, and ate breakfast. Then we departed for our worksites. Our main goal was to gut 4 houses during the 4 days we would be there. It seemed like an impossible task seeing as the houses were filled with debris.
Upon our arrival to the first house we noticed many things. The yard was overgrown with weeds that grew around and into wood and metal that was lying around in odd places as if it hadn’t even been touched since the water from the hurricane had receded. The house looked like it belonged in a Western movie in a deserted ghost town. The windows were smashed and there was no front door. The inside was in worse condition, if imaginable. A thick layer of mud and random objects coated the floor. We quickly got to work on our daunting task.
Eight long and hot hours later, the house was actually starting to shape up. We had successfully removed the coating off the floor and removed much of the debris from the yard. We were all extremely tired but exhilarated with how much progress had been made in only one day of work.
I started talking more with a few of the girls who were in my work group and whose bunk beds were near mine. Over the next few days of working and spending time at the campsite together we became fast friends. I was thrilled to have made new friends and actually happy that none of my good friends had decided to come because I wouldn’t have been as motivated to meet anyone new.
On the last day of working we had the opportunity to meet the homeowner of the house we were just finishing with. He and his wife had bought the home right before the hurricane hit. It was their first house together and they hadn’t even moved in yet. They were living in an apartment about an hour away and because of their work schedules and travel time cleaning out the house would have taken them about six months. We had done it in two days. It was such a moving experience to see a grown man crying out of joy and thankfulness and to know that you had a part in making him so happy. I will never forget his face.
That trip taught me so much. I made new friends and experienced a new place all while working hard and having fun. I wouldn’t trade that trip for the world and am so happy and blessed to have been able to go. I hope to return this spring break and am confident that I will have as positive an experience as my sophomore year.
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