Bruins B'Olam: Julia Feygelman
Bruins B'Olam is a blog series about Jewish Bruins around the world on Alternative Break experiences with UCLA Hillel. Alternative Break is a week-long immersive experience with students participating in community service projects with partner organizations. This year, Alternative Spring Break is going to the Dominican Republic on an education service trip; if you would like to join us or have more questions, please contact Jessica Jacobs at[email protected].
Building a porch under the fickle Oklahoma sky isn’t how someone might envision a college sophomore’s spring break, but that’s kind of what mine has looked like and it’s been nothing short of amazing. From learning to use a nail gun, digging through a total of 6 feet of rock-hard ground in 2 days, playing “10 fingers,” laser-tagging, singing songs in the van with the awesome people on this trip, and watching a porch magically prop itself up in front of Mr. Perry’s house, it’s been an eventful and enriching few days.
Working on Mr. Perry’s house has, for me personally, been very enjoyable. There’s something about spending the day outside doing good ‘ole yard work that is rejuvenating. The sweetness of accomplished tiredness, the skin film of sunscreen, dust, and a sunny glow, or maybe thawing under the heater after bracing the cold all day; all such rewarding feelings. The fact that in our situation they are coupled with volunteer service for a family that has been so welcoming and understanding of our willingness to be out here for them makes it all the more worth it. We’re a pretty diverse bunch, each with our own specific roots. We all come from such different backgrounds and run the gamut of ages, and maybe we have a number of reasons for being here and participating in this effort, but in these past few days it’s as if we’ve become a slightly dysfunctional yet totally adorable little family (between the students, the Perry’s, Jimmy and Larry, the JDRC and Hillel crews, even Haas, Junior, and Hunter [their pets]) all working on this great project, and it reassures me that there is hope, kindness, empathy, and strength in humanity. Who would’ve known that I would make this revelation by a dirt road in Newalla, Oklahoma? I didn’t know what to expect coming on this trip, but I’ve learned that the best way to build relationships and re-discover essential values is in the most rudimentary, unadorned, good-natured circumstances.