Instead of going to a tropical getaway and partaking in cycles of booze and relaxation, I hopped on a seventeen hour bus ride with 12 complete strangers to lend a hand doing community service in the Appalachian region.
Okay, so maybe my spring break was more than a "little different!" Part of what made it so amazing, though, was the fact that no one in my group saw our trip as an "alternative" spring break. We had a few who'd gone on the trip before and many who had not. We even had juniors and seniors who "gave up" their breaks to help out!
I've been gushing non-stop since we've returned. I honestly cannot believe how wonderful my experience was and how amazing, incredible, insert-every-positive-adjective-here, my appa family continues to be.
This is everyone on our very first day in South Carolina! It feels weird to look at this now and realize that we were still mostly strangers... especially beacause we started calling our leaders "mom" and "dad" pretty shortly after this!
We stayed on the floor of the firehouse for a night or two before rain made this room too cold for us. Then we moved into the kitchen/living room area and got even closer (our cots were riiiight next to each other. It was great for story time!)
We did a couple different types of work around the town, including the demolition of a small house (sledgehammers and teamwork galore!), brush clean up (due to the recent ice storm, whole trees had fallen! There were also bottles and other trash to pick up), and we cleaned and waxed the town hall until it shone!
The local ABC news affiliate even did a story on us! You can watch a clip here (unfortunately, not the full story. They interviewed a couple of us and had a longer piece, but I can't seem to find it anywhere!)
Aside from a small curse that was placed on Hannah at the demolition site, we all emerged unscathed and feeling like we'd made an immense positive difference! The lot where the fallen house stood is flat and beautiful again (especially evident since it had stood on the main street leading into town) and we made a visible change on the streets of pretty much the entire town!
There was always incredible amounts of delicious food laid out for us! I know I speak for the entirety of our group when I say I don't think I've ever ate as much or as well as I did for a week in Lincolnville, South Carolina!
The community was absolutely wonderful and so welcoming! They threw us a farewell party in the firehouse- with karaoke, dancing, chatting, rides in the trucks and (of course) so. much. fooooood!
Do you know what the best part about living in a firehouse is?
Yeah, neither do I! SO much awesome! From trying on the gear, to selfies (on AND in the trucks), to giddy rides in the cab, and living with the greatest people I've ever known... I can't choose just one highlight!
(PS- the guy in the yellow on the far right? That's Jeff, he's the community member who most became part of our group and one of the most inspiring people I've ever met! A post about Lincolnville wouldn't be complete without mentioning him!)
Everything I've written thus far doesn't seem like enough, but I don't suppose it ever could be! Last night was our last official meeting as a group, and it just filled me with a sense of lightness and more happiness than I can even put into words. This trip was the first time I've ever cried tears of joy, and there is an infinite number of things I could tell you to try and express how incandescently happy I am to have chosen appa for spring break (like hug circles after nightly reflection, hearing life stories and telling my own, games of mafia and catchphrase, the seemingly impossible task of a FUN 17 hour bus ride, how much we've seen of each other since coming back, our hilarious GroupMe... the list keeps going!) but I guess I'll just end with this- thank you Lincolnville, thank you Appalachia Volunteers, thank you BC, and thank you to each and every one of my group members. This isn't an experience I'm ever going to forget, in the same way that it isn't an experience I can aptly put into words. Thank you for rendering me speechless. I love you!