Lessons I Learned From My Alternative Spring Break Trip

My spring break did involve sun, water, and boys. Except the sun was beating down from the Virginian sky, the water filled up pools for ducks to splash in, and the boys were male pigs we were under strict instructions to avoid. For my spring bring, I participated in an Alternative Service Trip run by BU’s Community Service Center. We went to Paris, Virginia where we worked at the Liberty Hall Livestock Rescue for five days. Here are a few things I learned. 

1. Farm life is hard but rewarding

I had always heard farmers worked hard but I never realized how much. The people who ran the farm were up far before we got there and kept working after we left. Animals, especially large amounts of them require a lot of work. We put in all into each task for eight hours a day and it was exhausting. Yet when we finished something, it felt fantastic. The hands-on labor, soreness in our muscles, and dirt on our skin was much more satisfying than finishing an essay or project (and I’ve never felt better after a shower). 

2. Teamwork is A+

A large part of the experience was the people I shared it with and I was lucky to have an amazing group. For almost nine whole days we were together 24/7, just a bunch of people who wanted this to be their spring break. Yet we worked extremely well together and encouraged each other the whole way. We also had a ton of fun together and bonded very well. Highlights included: Cards against Humanity after knowing each other for less than 12 hours, going to McDonald’s after an especially physical day of service, watching silly movies, and playing Never Have I Ever. While we may not all have come away best friends, it was awesome to spend that week with a great team. 

3. Animals are fantastic (as is service)

Of course a large draw of this trip was interacting with the animals and boy did we. I got to collect eggs from chickens and ducks and feed cows, pigs and emus. I petted a huge array of farm creatures, particularly a very friendly turkey named Blue and a goat that acted more like a dog named Blacky. It was wonderful to know that all the work we did, whether it was mucking out stalls or building fences, was ultimately to benefit them. The owners of this farm had given these animals a chance to live out the rest of the days in safety and comfort and it was incredible to know we made contributions to that. 

4. I am capable of more than I thought

This trip showed that my body could do far more than I thought it could. I helped to build a fence, mix and lay cement, move huge tree stumps and planks of wood and muck out a massive barn for eight hours. And at the end of the trip we did a 7.5 mile hike along part of the Appalachian Trail. I don’t know if my body has ever hurt more, but I was extremely impressed with myself. This trip proved to me that I am more resilient and stronger than I had ever imagined.