Rachael Summers Alternative Spring Break 2019

The first time I encountered Hurricane Sandy was as a thirteen-year-old disappointed that Halloween had been rescheduled. I grew up 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, and the storm flooded a few homes in my neighborhood but the damage didn’t last. In the six and a half years since then, the storm hadn’t crossed my mind.  That was until this alternative spring break trip where we worked on homes that had yet to be repaired from Sandy’s damage.

During this trip I had the opportunity to put flooring in a house that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. My immediate reaction was that it was hard work I wasn’t capable of doing. However, after the site leader walked me through it I was able to put the boards in on my own. I also had the opportunity to cut the boards with a circular saw. I was afraid I would cut one of my fingers off but due to the site-leaders’ instructions I was safe.

The person whose house we repaired had been living in Seaside New Jersey for 50 years before the storm hit. They didn’t feel comfortable relocating due to their attachment to the community. The AmeriCorps volunteers we worked with were also from New Jersey. This struck a cord with me. It was incredibly heartwarming to see that members in the Jersey community are looking out for each other.

I was motivated to go on this alternate spring break trip when I learned that we would be tackling an issue dealing with climate change. Man-made changes in our atmosphere cause extreme hurricanes like Sandy. This resonated with me because the reason I’m a chemistry major is to do research that aids in Earth’s healing. This rebuilding project is only a short-term solution to the long-term problem. At a certain point there won’t be enough volunteers to repair the increasing damage done by climate-change-induced natural disasters. That is why it’s important to reach out to lawmakers and encourage them to pass bills that will protect our Earth.

I don’t think anyone would particularly oppose this project because we’re rebuilding people’s homes. People do however oppose action against climate change because regulations can be expensive and hard to implement.  Most corporations feel that it isn’t worth the effort in the short term. However it is worth it, as these companies won’t be able to exist if there is no planet for them to operate on.

I want the Pace community to know that there is still hope. One thing that resonated with me is the passion this generation has. On our trip we worked with people from AmeriCorps, which is the domestic Peace Corps. These people have dedicated nearly a year of their lives to give back to the country. Having nightly discussions and working with my Pace peers revealed how passionate they are as well.  As college students we can get so wrapped up in our classes, hobbies, and social lives, but it’s important to take time to stop and look at the big picture.