Rieanna McPhie's Alternative Spring Break Reflection: Day 1

Rieanna McPhie’s Alternative Spring Break Reflection: Day 1

Today was our first day in the Rockaways. We went to the beach and explored the area. While walking back from the beach I could see some houses with cover sheets (or some sort of covering) on their windows and some houses that were completely abounded. I am not familiar with the area but it made me think of how it must have been before the hurricane. There was this one empty house with a kid’s swing in the backyard. Looking at that lonely swing just moving to the wind, it just made me sad and brought an image of a happy kid having fun. The empty houses made me think of how hard it must have been for people to leave the houses they loved, perhaps lived their whole life of grew up in. I know it’s all just my imagination, but it still made me emotional.

At the beach, I was taking pictures and thinking of how I would like to come back in the summer, yet after a while staring at the water and looking around, I thought of how the beach, the water in front of me destroyed people’s lives and houses. I could not imagine how this calming water in front of me heaved enough to reach not only the houses nearby but the downtown area. This made me think of the power and unpredictableness of nature, which is why natural disasters are scary. I’m blessed enough to have no experience with disastrous events, however it’s important to know the experience of those who did and share the story. So, I’m looking forward to meeting and talking to the people and seeing the damages that were caused with my own two eyes.

Also, looking at the water and thinking of how monstrous nature can become, it made me think of the Tohoku Earthquake. The Tohoku Earthquake in Japan occurred in 2011, resulting in over 20,000 deaths and over 300,000 homelessness. I lived in Japan when it happened but my city wasn’t affected at all. I remember feeling weird seeing all those news and footage in the media, when I’m enjoying a family dinner with the people I love. It’s hard to understand or take into the reality of the situation when you haven’t experienced it or seen it with your own eyes. So, I hope this trip allows me to see what natural disasters can do to homes, communities and people’s lives. This trip will definitely benefit not only the people who live in the homes we repair but us students, as people and thinkers who are interested in community service.

Regards to the more social experience, it has already been an amazing meeting the other students. No one was shy. However, after spending about an hour exploring the area as a group, we were talking non-stop, having a heated debate on veganism to talking about our future goals. I truly believe that I have found new friends that I will be connected after the trip, and I cannot wait to start this experience with these people starting tomorrow.