Hannah Schaeffer '16

Name: Hannah Schaeffer

Year: 2016

Hometown: Lower Merion, Pennsylvania

Major/Minor: Major in Human Services, Minor in Judaic Studies

Campus Involvement: GW Hillel, Alternative Breaks



How did you get started with Alternative Breaks? What trips have you been on?

Freshman year I signed up kind of blindly, not knowing what I was getting myself into. I went to Nicaragua. We went to El Manzano Uno, in Nicaragua--this tiny town--and we helped build a school, which was beautiful and such a cool experience to meet everyone in that community. 

The next year, I was so enamored with Alt Breaks that I signed up to lead, and I was assigned to lead Gullah Nation with Floyd Jones. We took 10 students to the community of Gullah Nation, which runs along the Southern coast down to Jacksonville, Florida. We learned about ecological preservation and how to preserve a culture that seems to be dying. It was stressful leading a trip, but super rewarding during the trip knowing you planned it and to get to see the fruits of your hard work.

This year, I went to Kentucky, to the Appalachian Mountains, because I didn't want to be a leader but I wanted to see another community. The alt break was amazing! We were in Harlan Kentucky working with COAP, an organization that has been working since the 1970s to provide sustainable housing to communities in Appalachia. It was an eye-opening week spent building a new porch and ramp for a family, learning about issues facing the community, going on breathtaking hikes, square-dancing, thrift-shopping, and endless laughing.


And you're also involved with Hillel?

Hillel has been a home away from home, because when I came as a freshman I was looking for a Jewish community to have support from. Sophomore year I got more involved and helped plan Shabbat. It's great. {Editor's Note: Hannah is now the president of the Jewish Students Association!}


Do you have any idea what you want to do after graduation?

I think I want to spend a year in Israel, exploring my identity some more, and take it day by day. 


How was it to study abroad in London?

It was an incredible experience. I saw places I never thought I would see, because when you're in Europe it's so easy to travel. 


What was your favorite place?

Bath, in the UK. I wish they had it here; I would move there.