This past spring break, I decided to veer away from the sunny beaches of Florida and apply for a UDaB trip, which is UD’s alternative break program for those who are unfamiliar with the infamous acronym. Originally, when I applied for UDaB, I envisioned going halfway across the country to New Orleans, or even traveling somewhere outside of the United States. So when I found out I would be spending my highly anticipated spring break working with Habitat for Humanity in Vineland, New Jersey, I was pretty bummed that I would be staying the week in my home state. As the days leading up to the trip passed, I actually became less and less excited about going because I just could not fathom why everyone was so crazy about UDaB. Little did I know that the day we departed for Cumberland County would be the start of my absolute favorite days of college thus far.
The first time I saw the house that we would be working on for the week, I was a little disillusioned simply because it appeared almost finished from the outside. When I used to think of Habitat for Humanity, I would think of literally erecting a house from nothing within one week, not just putting the finishing touches on one that is already basically complete. After spending just ten minutes inside the house, I quickly realized that there is a lot of work that goes into the most miniscule of details. For instance, two other girls and I worked on one window frame for an entire afternoon! Although getting the measurements wrong one or two (or five) times was extremely frustrating, the outcome was something that made us prouder than any ‘A’ that we could have earned on even the most brutal of exams.
I have to admit, on the first day, as our three vans traveled just a measly hour across the Delaware border, I found myself wondering if I would even make any friends within the group of 19 students who were selected for the trip; everyone just seemed so quiet and reserved at first. However, by the end of the first night at our lodge, I’ve never seen a group of strangers have such an amazing time together. I have no idea how it happened, but the group just meshed so perfectly it was astounding. Needless to say, there were innumerable tears at the end of the week when we had to return to real life and split from our newfound group of tightknit friendship.
Not only did we return to UD with some pretty handy hard skills, but we also learned a lot about ourselves along the way. I honestly did not think I would even go near a power saw over the course of the trip because I’m usually too afraid to use machinery, but after just the first day I ended up being the one that my fellow volunteers would turn to in order to have a piece of wood or siding cut for them. By the end of the week, I even rapped in front of the entire group (and if you know me, you know I would NEVER do that). The bottom line is, going on this UDaB Habitat for Humanity trip taught me not only how to be confident around others, but how to be confident internally, and that is something that cannot be taught in any classroom.