By Krista DeJulio – Co-Editor-in-Chief
Sprang breaaaak foreva. That’s what James Franco would say. I’m not James Franco, and we probably have nothing in common, but I’m going to say it too. Sprang breaaaak foreva.
This spring break I did something different. Usually I would travel back home, hang out with high school friends, and catch up on TV and books, but this year I traveled to Atlanta, GA for Alternative Spring Break, a weeklong volunteer opportunity through the Center for Community-Based Learning. I was excited to embark on the trip, but I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me. So many tears and laughs were shared among my peers, whom I barely knew at the beginning. I’m not a secretive person, but a private person. I shared things I have only ever shared with a handful of people, with new people I barely knew. But I know these people now and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to meet each and every single person.
I saw our group of 19 become closer each day. We jammed out in the van (the artist Mariahlynn a personal favorite, the genre of country not so much), stayed up late having a “cheese ball” tournament, and nightly reflections that made us both laugh and cry. We were mistaken for juvenile delinquents in our matching tshirts, I saw Atlanta for the first time, I learned how to throw a football, and overall had an experience of a lifetime. As a naturally quiet person, I was extremely nervous about making friends with my peers on the trip. We all ranged in majors, years, and backgrounds, and I didn’t know if I would connect well with anyone. As a naturally easy-going person, I was able to make friends with people quickly, and talk with ease about our lives and aspirations. I connected with people I have walked past a million times, and I thought that was amazing. Again, I’m not a secretive person, just a private person, and I was surprised at the connection I made so quickly with people I didn’t know last semester.
I watched my peers grow and accept each other in the smallest ways. We accepted each other’s quirks and backgrounds in the most beautiful way imaginable. We had early service mornings and nightly talks that would go past midnight, but seldom complained because we got to spend each new day together (and there was always coffee in the morning even if it was decaf. It’s the thought that counts). We were able to connect with the community of Atlanta in our five days of service. We worked at an urban garden, the beautiful and open Piedmont Park, Meals on Wheels, and Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center and seeing our group come together to do service was the best part.
We each impacted each other’s lives in the smallest and greatest ways possible. I now have 18 other people – excuse me, friends – to count on on campus. Though I didn’t know these people a month ago, you get to know someone really well when you share a van for 24 hours and a bed for seven days.
It physically pained me to wake up the next Monday morning and to not be surrounded by 18 crazy people and go to serve an aspect of the Atlanta community, but I will always have the memories of our time spent together.