My fall break started with a phone call with my mom. She was begging me to drop out of the Appalachian fall break mission trip. Sure, I had been in the seminar class for five weeks prior to fall break preparing for the trip and was packing for the trip as we spoke, but I understood where she was coming from. It had been midterms week and the only calls she had gotten from me usually involved a mental break down and that stress always seemed to go hand-in-hand with homesickness.
After a long phone debate, I finally decided to go. After coming back, I can easily say that was one of the best decisions of my life.
I’ll spare you my personal gushing and inside jokes from my Appalachia group, but to put it simply, it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I left reserved and anxious for this trip and returned for the first time this year, I had the clearest idea of where I was going in my life.
So, I know it’s a little early to start thinking about spring break trips, but considering I already know people with not just summer internships, but BACK-UP summer internships, I’m going there. Here’s four reasons you should consider making Appalachia your 2015 spring break destination:
1. New Friendships
Step 1: Put a bunch of Notre Dame students in a car for 7+ hours to drive to their Appalachia destination. Step 2: Make them work together for the next week. By the end of the week, surprise! It’s a recipe for automatic friendship.
Depending on the work you do in Appalachia, you can feel so empowered in differnet ways. I worked on housing restructuring and at the start of the week, I didn’t even know how to hammer a nail. By the end, I was confident in using power tools and even helped build a deck. No matter what, you’ll leave this trip with some valuable life skills and a newfound confidence.
3. Giving Back
When you go to a school like Notre Dame, we are called to give back to those less fortunate than us. We are blessed with so many trips like this seminar to step up and help a community in need. You could spend your spring break Netflixing, partying at a beach, but why not give your time to someone else? You will get more out of it and you’ll even get something in return.
4. Learning Experience
Going into a mission trip involving construction work, I learned a lot, yes. But I didn’t just learn how to operate power tools and install siding to a house. I learned that sometimes when you have to do redo the side of the house AGAIN for the fifth time, and you are so far past the point of frustration, sometimes the best thing you can do is smile and keep a happy attitude to not bring down the morale of the group. I was reminded by the woman whose house we worked on that every time, the people are far more important in your life than any material good. I learned that when you work on a house, you aren’t just building a home, you’re building your character.
I could keep raving about Appalachia, but I’ll cut this short. I hope you at least consider Appalachia at some point during your time at Notre Dame. Whether you do it because it was on your ND bucket list, you had nothing better to do over break, or you legitimately want to do construction work, you won’t regret going on this!
Images: 1, 2, 3, 4 provided by author