Alternative Spring Break: Day 1 – Deina
As I entered room E327 and saw the other volunteers, I knew that there was no turning back. We were a mix of Pleasantville and New York City students, all from different cultural backgrounds. Besides our video conferences, I didn’t meet any Pleasantville students and was excited to see them outside the screen. It made things just a little more real and exciting.
And when we talked, I realized that the people who surrounded me were truly committed and caring. I had decided to volunteer because I wanted to do something with my life, not just my spring break. I figured that life was too short not to help others at least once – especially after I’d been a victim. We talked some more; eventually discovering who was which mythical creature (I recall a lot of centaurs).
After separating for lunch, we returned to watch a documentary. It was, somehow, both moving and explanatory. It gave new theories about how this planet’s habits are changing and how we’ve influenced our own destruction. It told stories of those hit all around New York – from safe places like Brooklyn to the danger zones of Far Rockaway. The story that got to me the most was about a father and son found dead while embracing each other.
Later on we took off in the Pace bus to Staten Island to meet our tour guide Tony (seeing random turkeys on our way to pick him up). With his accent thick, he took us around, showing what Sandy left behind. I had been anxiously waiting to hear stories from the locals not only on the impact but the loss. To me, the reality of dying has (and always will be) what brings our humanity back to us, as if it’d been lost. On the ground, areas were still flooded, and some homes unrestored and mangled.
We bowled right after our little go around the city, with pizza and bowling shoes
(which was a big deal for me because I didn’t know you had to bowl with a specific type of shoe). Dan, our group leader, startled me by his amazing sports-like abilities while Catherine, our fellow volunteer, utterly demolished the scoreboard, way over 130.
Now, as I wait for my first ever day of volunteering – in my mind I imagine myself in sweat and rain, tearing up walls, breaking sinks and tiles while wearing a mask and sturdy gloves. But don’t get me wrong – this is what I’ve been waiting for.
ASB Participant 2013