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Spring Breakers…or Alternative Breakers?

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Written by Devon Mitchell

While it may be fun to spend spring break lying on the beach, there is another option for Roanoke College equally as great. Alternative Breaks are a great way to spend break learning and serving. Initially this doesn’t sound super interesting, but after my week spent in South Carolina volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, I have found that alternative breaks are an enriching experience.

Before leaving, I was nervous that I would regret not having the break from work all my peers got. While they were sleeping in or even relaxing on a warm sandy beach, I was going to be working long hours. I soon discovered that what I was doing didn’t feel so much like hard labor.

I worked alongside new friends to help build something for the greater good. We spent the week on three work sites, each one with their own tasks to be completed. At the first site I had a life-changing experience; I was taught how to use power tools, I was able to masterfully saw down trees. The exhilaration which comes from watching a tall tree fall from your saw blade is different than any other feeling, and this was only the first day!

Not only was I learning new skills, we were collectively learning about systematic racism, which has led and leads to housing insecurities. We spent some time in Charleston, SC, which has a dark history of slavery. This history of slavery would soon lead to generational poverty, which has become a contributor toward housing inequality. Learning the background put what we were doing into perspective. Even on the days which seemed tedious, remembering what this house we worked on would mean for one future homeowner was a huge motivator.

All this being said I would highly recommend Alternative Breaks. It is a great way to gain a bigger understanding of the world we live in. Knowing I have spent my spring break doing something which could help change an individual’s life is incredibly humbling and I know I will never forget this experience. So, if you are considering an alternative break, just do it. You will not regret it.