By Karen | March 24, 2013
Earlier this year, I applied to take part in an alternative spring break trip through OSU’s Buck-I-Serv program. After a spring break spent meeting awesome Buckeyes and basking in a little bit of sunshine I would encourage every student to get involved with this program.
The particular program I was involved with sent about 50 students to Birmingham, Alabama to work with their local Habitat for Humanity organization. For four days I worked with a group of students to help build a home.
The house my group was assigned to was almost finished. This meant we had tasks like putting siding on the house or building the porch. We were soon taking measurements and using power tools like we had been doing this for ages.
Although Habitat only builds Tuesday- Friday our group left Columbus the first Saturday of spring break. This meant that we had a few free days to see Birmingham. One of the perks of Buck I Serv is the awesome chance to see parts of the country I would not have otherwise traveled to.
In Birmingham we were able to see a local civil rights museum and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a sort of headquarters for the civil rights movement in Birmingham. As a History major this was a really awesome opportunity for me. We were also given the chance to visit a nearby set of caves, seeing baby bats, holding onto each other as the lights were turned off so that we could see complete darkness, and walking through running water ankle deep from a recent rain storm.
The most rewarding part of my trip came from the people, both in Alabama and the students I traveled with. The residents of Birmingham convinced me that Southern hospitality actually is a real thing. Everywhere we went people knew we were from Habitat for Humanity and wanted to thank us for what we were doing. So many people in the community were touched by Habitat. Even the plumber who came in to fix our shower that week had once lived in a Habitat house. Everyone was incredibly welcoming.
Even those who were not aware of our involvement with Habitat for Humanity welcomed our group with open arms. A group of us walked into a Spanish speaking church and accidentally interrupted the last five minutes of a service but the priest still spoke with us and gave us Communion. In one instance we called ahead to a barbecue restaurant to be sure they could seat 50 of us and arrived to see that they had made a last minute change to their sign…
I was also amazed by how much fun I had getting to know my fellow students who came on this trip. We spent the week living in a church basement where we were consistently in each other’s personal space. We all got incredibly close and as soon as we got back to campus were anxious to see each other again. We spent our evenings outside in the sunshine playing ultimate Frisbee or in the basement playing an infinite amount of card games.
A particular highlight was a game called Murder in the Dark, the real life version of the card game mafia. We played this night after night, as an entire group. We would pass out cards to determine who the “murderers” were then turn off all the lights and wander around the basement until murders were committed by squeezing the victims on the arms. When a victim was found we turned all the lights on and met in the common area to try to solve the whodunit in time. It amazed me that this many strangers could so easily get along and organize a game that we were pleased to play again and again with each other.
I spent this week getting to know so many people in my own Ohio State community who I otherwise would never have met. It was an invaluable experience to both learn about a community in Alabama and about the community that surrounds me every day. I plan to sign up for future Buck I Serv trips and encourage everyone who can to get involved and have the chance to have an awesome break like I did.
More information about Buck I Serv can be found here: buckiserv.osu.edu
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