As a freshman, there are so many options for student organizations to get involved in. The possibilities seem endless, especially when attending the Fall Involvement Fair. Seeing all the tables all around campus is simultaneously overwhelming and exciting. Like many of my Honors friends that I made in Redding, I wanted to get involved as much as I could. Therefore, I signed up for as many clubs as I could.
One of the programs that I signed up to be involved with was UD’s Alternative Break Program (UDaB). I have always had a passion for serving my community and thought it would be amazing to spend my Spring Break in another city with a group of students just as passionate about service as I am. So, when it came time for applications to be opened, I filled out the form right when it was released. After several workshops and interviews, I found out that I had gotten into the Spring Program in Boston, working at Community Servings, a non-profit organization that makes meals for individuals and families living with chronic illnesses. I was ecstatic to be in a new place serving others.
My trip ended up changing my life in a way that I never knew it would. Rather than being a week where I just did service and returned, my viewpoint towards the reason for the service and why we were there changed. Through our pre-departure meetings, we learned about food insecurity and its impact on the Boston community. While in Boston, we were constantly discussing the challenges that those with chronic illnesses face, and the bigger picture of the social issues that lead to why we were doing service in the first place. Outside of just wanting to make the world a better place, I had never thought critically about community service. I had thought that by volunteering in the community I was doing my part. The trip I thought would just be Spring Break ended up shifting my mindset and in what ways I chose to give back to the community.
Ever since then, I have done everything I can to learn more about different social justice issues and educate myself beyond just service at the surface level. There is much that I still do not know about, but I try and take myself out of my comfort zone to learn more. Regarding UDaB, I have become more involved within the organization. Unfortunately due to COVID, my second UDaB trip as a participant and first trip as a Site Leader was cancelled. However, I am now part of Senior Leadership in my senior year here at UD. As Operations Coordinator, I now am in charge of planning educational opportunities throughout the year and over spring break so that more students can have the life-changing experience that I did and grow on their journey towards becoming active citizens.
If you would like to have the opportunity to do this within UDaB, we as an organization often host events to further educate students about social justice issues and areas for change. For instance, our theme for the month of October was Environmental Justice. In collaboration with Students for the environment and The Environmental Justice Project, we hosted a day of service at White Clay Creek on October 11th to help remove invasive species. In addition, we had a climate change and environmental justice education panel with UD professors on October 20th. Check out the links at the end to learn more about what we do.
I encourage you to try and take a step outside your comfort zone when it comes to service and try something new. Reflect on the reasons why you are serving the community in that way, and what other factors lead to why the community has those needs to begin with. Think about the bigger picture above just your “day of” or “week of” service.