Wow. This three-letters word pretty much sums up my first Alternative Breaks trip to Hillsboro, West Virginia. It was the most life-changing experience I had, for it was my first time doing a lot of things, i.e. roasting marshmallows, eating s’mores, cooking, hiking, using power tools in the woodshed, scraping “actual shit,” lighting fireworks (it’s legal in West Virginia!). As you can see, the list goes on, which shows how memorable and significant this trip means to me. Never before had I seen so many dead ladybugs or been so close to nature; I was more amazed than disgusted when I saw a spider wrap a fly and injected its prey with venom (perks of being a science geek).
However, the most important part of this trip was the new friendships formed and maintained as well as the intimate and convivial conversations I had. It’s wonderful how we can learn so much about each other in just one week—I felt so comfortable and at home around all of you. I have lived in New York City for 20 years and never thought I would be able to leave the urban life behind, even for an entire week. Boy, was I wrong. This was by far the most productive, challenging, and possibly best spring break I had. I realized that having no cell service was actually beneficial because I got to spend more time with everyone and to work on hands-on-activities. I enjoyed the communal lifestyle of cooking with three other people in the kitchen, washing dishes or cleaning the rooms, waking up with seven other people in the same room, fighting for the two showers in the entire Dacha, and cramming all together in that one long couch in the basement to keep each other warm.
I want to thank all of you for making my first AB trip so joyous and wonderful. Your warm-heartedness, optimism, and great sense of humor allowed me to slowly come out of my shell. I became more comfortable sharing about myself and contributing to the group discussions. Your support has made me into a braver, happier, and stronger individual. Every single one of you has not only become my close friends, but also my family. I know there are a few Friends fans in this group, so I want to end my reflection by saying that I’ll Be There for You (the Friends theme song) forever and always.
With much love,