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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Through the Eyes of a Volunteer: ASBO 2011

What did you do during your spring break this year? This spring break I had the chance to make 43 new friends while helping restore the environment in Pensacola, Fla.

 

Alternative Spring Break Outreach, or ASBO, gave me the opportunity to experience things I never thought possible. I made the decision to partake in ASBO at the beginning of the fall semester, because I wanted to make a difference and actually do something useful during my spring break. There were 43 other people who also participated in ASBO; this strengthened my decision because I was able to meet a variety of new people. This year was the first year in which there were two separate trips —one to New Orleans and one to Pensacola, Fla. I chose to go to Pensacola because the work we did focused more on environmental restoration. I always wanted to participate in ASBO and I am very happy I was able to. ASBO is like nothing you have experienced before.

 

To start off, the 25-hour bus ride to Florida was an experience in its own. When you are stuck on a bus for that long with so many other people, it doesn’t take long for everyone to let their walls down and reach a comfort level with each other.

 

When we arrived at Camp Timpoochee we all got situated into our cabins and immediately played volleyball and Frisbee and hung out on the beach. It was great to get to know each person on a personal level while being there. One of the best moments of ASBO was the night we all went out. It was great to see everyone hanging out. ASBO is not all fun and games though; the main reason ASBO exists is so we can help others.

 

We had five work days during our stay in Pensacola. On two of those, we helped out at the camp we were staying at. Though the work at the camp might seem like nothing to an outsider, it made a huge differnece to those at the camp. Imagine 44 people doing the jobs that five people normally do. During the other work days we worked with different organizations, such as Community Collaborations International to help restore the coastal areas of the bay. We bagged fossilized oyster shells to build oyster reefs to help prevent erosion due to crashing waves and to give baby oyster a good place to grow. We also planted two different types of sea grass to prevent coastal erosion.

 

Knowing that we were able to help these organizations restore the environment was such a gratifying experience. Being able to see the people’s faces as we worked with them was amazing. They were so happy that we gave up our time to help them. I felt incredible that after knowing each other for such a short period of time we were able to work efficiently and contribute to restoring the coast.

 

I learned so much about myself and other people while I was in Pensacola. I learned that I could do a lot more physical labor than I thought possible. I also learned that while helping others you don’t realize how hard you are working, because all you can think about is the good you are doing. I learned that there are so many people willing to help in this world. It is not every day you find 100 students that are willing to give up their spring break to volunteer. The greatest thing I learned from this experience was how grateful people are when you help. The people we worked with and the locals we met were all thankful for the work we did and showed gratitude. I would recommend participating in ASBO to anyone who is interested in making a difference. Not only can I say I helped restore the coasts of Florida, but I now have 43 new people to say “Hi” to on campus, 43 people to grab lunch with and, most importantly, 43 new friends.

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