Why I Spent Spreak Doing Community Service
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Student Life

I Spent Spring Break Doing Community Service And It Was More Rewarding Than Posting Sunset Pics

Scroll through your feed the entire month of March and you can see people lying in the tropics and sipping something out of a cute pineapple

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I Spent Spring Break Doing Community Service And It Was More Rewarding Than Posting Sunset Pics
Giannina Garcia

Spring break usually consists of the same formula: a group of friends plus somewhere warm and Instagrammable. College is the only time where you can take a week off like this and not have to put other responsibilities on hold. I genuinely enjoy seeing people taking some time out for themselves because the semester is too hectic to not.

My last three spring breaks have looked a little different. I have participated in service trips to New Orleans, Louisiana to build houses for storm-affected areas; Tahlequah, Oklahoma to work in early childhood education; and I just got back from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where our main goal was sexual health. This isn't an "I am so nice giving my spring break to do service" toot my own horn piece.

To start off, the way trips are structured at GW is that you do most of the fundraising as a group and learn about the service site you're about to work on. By reading articles, having discussions, and watching the occasional TED Talk, I felt more comfortable going into an area.

Personally, this trip was unlike the other two because it focused on sexual health in the LGBT community. Just by the nature of the topic, it is more sensitive and evokes harder questions. Before participating in the pre-trip meetings and actually meeting our partner sites. I originally felt that I did not have the right to be in these spaces.

This trip gave me a better understanding of what it means to be an ally and just how important it is to have solidarity between all communities. I also learned the importance of asking questions. I also felt somewhat hesitant about approaching this topic just from my lack of experience in this area. I have a public health background, but not much beyond the textbook readings in this area. Being surrounded by such openness, it was easy to ask questions, which only enhanced my experience.

Clearly, the service-learning model is definitely a pro because it ensures that everyone is on the same page about the location. The meetings also work to teach more about how to enter a community properly and how to work alongside your fellow trip members. They allow you to explore your privilege and learn how to be an ally rather than a "savior."

Another pro is that a trip like this allows you to explore an issue area that you are passionate about. Because the trips are targeted, you can apply to go on one that fits your interests. This ensures that the participants are enthusiastic about the mission. This also helps guarantee that the trip is done with intention rather than just to score a "free" ride to a fun location.

Lastly, this is an opportunity for self-growth and reflection. Since the trips I have participated in have a heavy emphasis on service-learning, it allows the opportunity to really immerse yourself into an issue and an area. I remember my first trip to New Orleans. I learned so much about how Katrina still heavily affects the everyday lives of the residents.

On the other hand, there are always some cons to working in a place for only a week. Primarily, you only have a short time, so your impact is not also that drastic. The best way to combat this is to leave the service site with as much work as possible completed and ready for the next group to just jump in.

Likewise, it is always hard to build a relationship with the community in such a short time. Being trusted by the residents and service site is integral to properly serving a community.

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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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