Why I Chose Service For My Spring Break
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Why I Chose Service For My Spring Break

With a duffel bag full of hiking socks, flannel shirts, and bug spray, I had no idea what to expect.

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Why I Chose Service For My Spring Break
Alyssa Mattison

Picture the *perfect* college Spring Break. Packing your bags for Cancun, Panama City, or a trip overseas, then boarding a plane with 50 of your closest(ish) friends for an entire week of beaches, booze, and endless memories. Long days spent lounging in the sand or touring the local spots, polaroid camera in hand. After spending months booking all-inclusive resorts, taking passport pictures, and picking out the perfect bikini to debut on the 'gram--time finally slows for one week and the only worry you have is wondering where your adventure will take you next...

Can it get any better than that? You bet.

This year, I chose an alternative to the tan lines and solo cups for my Spring Break. Through my school's Community Outreach program, I signed up to drive 30 hours (yes, you read that right) on a bus to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where I'd spend the week learning about environmental conservation and serving their community. With a duffel bag full of hiking socks, flannel shirts, and bug spray, I had no idea what to expect. I couldn't have predicted what a life-changing experience one week would turn out to be.

WHEREVER YOU ARE

First, there was the service itself: clearing invasive species, marking trails, giving help where (and when) help was needed. We got to know the National Park Rangers and volunteers we worked with on an incredibly personal level, inspired by the kindness we found at every site we visited. From people of all walks of life, I learned how to be open, honest, and humble. We live in a country that's diverse and unique in each state, county, or town that we travel through--as a lifelong New England girl, I'm happy to know that it's possible to find common ground and genuine friendships in even the most unlikely of places.

BE ALL THERE

Why should you choose service for your next Spring Break? It's a chance to surround yourself with #PositiveVibes from like-minded people. I've waited all my years at college to make friends like the ones I met on my service trip. From freezing our butts off at the top of a mountain to group reflections and all the laughs, tears, and craziness in between, I'm returning to the "real world" a better person than when I left it. I learned that it's possible to be understood and loved unconditionally in only a short amount of time and that you can't plant roses without running into a few thorns. Even if you aren't doing service this Spring Break, take the time to appreciate those around you.

You could spend your Spring Break feeling the sunshine on your skin, sprawled out on a beach somewhere... Or, you could challenge yourself to a week that's bigger than yourself. Bring light into your life that's more than skin-deep, and share it for all to see.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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