It is the Monday after Spring Break, and honestly, I am finding it a little difficult to shake off vacation-mode. But, we are in the homestretch! Only five more weeks of the semester left so it is time to get back into the swing of things.
Last week for Spring Break, I had the incredible opportunity of participating in Alternative Spring Break. It is a program run through the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships which is department of Wentworth that facilitates and strengthens our relationship with the community through service projects. Last August, I went on a trip with five other Civil Engineering students to build drainage systems for a few non-profit wiffle ball fields in Vermont. Last semester, I worked with the CLP and a professor to design and organize a student-run build for an outdoor staircase at a local elementary school. The CLP always has various volunteer projects going on, so if that is something you enjoy doing, Wentworth has got that for you! Another program they run is Alternative Spring Break. In November, applications are sent out for participating in a week long service trip. After an interview process, students are chosen to take part in one of the three groups. Each group goes to a different part of the country and gets involved in different organizations. In past years students have gone to Florida, California, and Texas! This year, ASB took place in Boston, Washington D.C., and San Diego. I was lucky enough to be a part of the San Diego group!
My week in San Diego has easily been one of the most inspiring, eye-opening experiences in my life. I along with 12 other students left last Saturday to an entirely new environment. At first, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know many people in my group that well. As someone who has very close friends, the uncertainty of clicking with people was a bit worrisome. However, on the ride to the airport, I was quickly reassured. Everyone on the trip somehow worked so well together despite our differences. This was such an integral part as to why our trip was such a success.
We arrived in San Diego at our hostel and was quickly greeted by such friendly, laid back people who worked there. You know how people say that people in California are just so nice and carefree? Well, that was EXACTLY what we found at our quirky, homey hostel.
Here is the outside of hostel! It has flags from some of the places
it’s former residents!
The hostel was full of murals that made our stay
feel very homey!
We spent the week at various organizations to manifest our theme of “Touching Lives”. We saw how our work at the San Diego Food Bank came full circle at the Third Avenue Chartiable Organization. The meals served at TACO are frequently made from food from the Food Bank! Talk about a 360 moment! We worked with Border Angels to help immigrants who are looking for better lives for themselves and their families in small but impactful ways. For me, it was definitely a very moving experience coming from a family of immigrants. It reminded me to never take for granted that life and freedom I have as well as how brave my parents were to leave their home country to an entirely new life. Next, we spent a day at a construction site for Habitat for Humanity. I worked on building cabinets. While that may have not been huge heavy lifting, it was really great being able to picture families putting food in these cabinets and knowing I was helping them make a home not just a house for their family. Lastly, we spent two days in another soup kitchen called Father Joe’s. This was one of our favorite places to volunteer because we saw just how much work went into making something like this possible. We left our hostel both mornings at 5:30am to help serve breakfast and prep for lunch which we later served. As a college student, a 5:30am wake up call is definitely not an easy feat. But to think of the volunteers who do this daily so that the homeless population of San Diego can have a warm meal is awe-inspiring. Being able to interact with people as we were serving them was definitely a highlight. So many people were so kind and thankful regardless of the hardships they face daily. It made me reflect on any of the times I may have taken for granted things in my life and complained. I definitely will think twice before doing that in the future.
Our group at the San Diego Food Bank. That day we packaged
2500 lbs of avocados along with hundreds of ingredients for meals.
Here I am in the deserts of Southern California. We dropped off
gallons of water for immigrants throughout the desert that day.
That being said, San Diego wasn’t just all work. With a few power naps after volunteering, we headed to various beaches and explored the city. Being in San Diego’s Little Italy, we were close to downtown where there were tons of restaurants and attractions.
Here is San Diego’s La Jolla Beach; we saw saw many seals here!
Here’s Sydney, Audrey, and me exploring Coronado Beach! So glad we became
such great friends on the trip!
Overall, this trip was full of so many incredible new sights, people, ideas, and perspectives. I am so glad that I was able to work with such a great group and wonderful trip supervisor, Nicole from the CLP. I hope to go back to San Diego one day to continue working with these organizations!
Here is our entire trip having lots of fun in the sun!
Thanks for reading!