By Danielle Hogan & Mackenzie Dineen – Arts Editor & Features Editor
Fifteen Lasell students and alum departed Logan as strangers but returned as a family. For seven days our world was limited to these 15 faces, the Georgia mountains and our Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) mentors.
For three days we hacked away at trees and clay, building new and sustainable amenities for the Appalachian Trail (AT). We averaged three-to-four hours of sleep a night and traveled like sardines in a 15 person van; our bodies pushed to their physical limits and our minds constantly engaged by past trauma and emotion reintroduced through our nightly reflection.
If you’re wondering why I chose this instead of a destination vacation, $200 in fees makes Lasell Alternative Breaks (LAB) a financially feasible option. LAB destinations are also disclosed post-acceptance, adding an element of spontaneity to the sweet deal of experiencing and contributing to a part of the country you may never have seen before.
Gaining 14 new lifelong friends and the grandfatherly support of our GATC supervisor, Roy Stallings, is the reason I would make this choice again in a heartbeat. I learned things about myself that lounging on a beach certainly could not unlock. I struggled every day and was met with unconditional love from 14 people I admired deeply. I questioned my identity and found answers. The clarity of the woods and the trip’s substance-free stipulation restored a balance I had long searched for.
Thank you to my trip advisors, leaders, the GATC, fellow ASB members and those who donated for making this experience possible. I suggest anyone considering LAB challenge themself and apply; I promise you will emerge better than you began.
ASB in Houston, Texas, was an amazing opportunity for 15 Lasell community members to serve a small part in Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery.
Every evening from day one we communed to form a reflection circle in the living room of our temporary home. The first nights were challenging, pushing us out of our comfort zones while learning about one another. After the first reflection, however, we shared a determination and warm energy to bring into the workdays proceeding.
The first two service days we worked with SBP, a non-profit that shrinks the time between disaster and recovery. Each morning before leaving for service we established buddies, or our partner for the day. Our group was able to work together but each pair had a different job. Two-by-two we paired off to complete siding of a house.
The afternoon ew by with overwhelming laughter and positivity. If I could describe the attitude in one word it would be supportive. We all overcame physical and emotional challenges to complete most of the siding on the house but never lost motivation as to what our purpose was.
Wednesday and Thursday our group split into two sites while working with West Street Recovery to build rain gardens. Rain gardens are used to nourish native plants on gardens that keep rainwater from flooding the street.
It rained most of the week leaving the Texas clay wet and heavy. However, I was immensely impressed by the work ethic of everyone I observed. No one lost motivation or perspective due to the overwhelming generosity of the homeowner.
The sense of community was like no other by our final service day. Outside of service we also spent our free time together. We are continuing to grow our bond even after the ASB experience.