In May, 2015, massive flooding devastated the Austin,Texas area. San Francisco Hillel has sent 7 students to contribute to the long-term recovery effort; here are their reflections.
This trip has opened my eyes in so many ways. However, one of the most powerful and surprising parts of this Alternative Break has been the opportunity to further bond with my SF Hillel community. When we all left California and began this journey to Texas, I didn’t anticipate how this experience would open each of us, and how every individual would bring a different strength and depth to the experience.
At first, we seemed like a random bunch of students. Besides my fellow AEPi brothers, I didn’t know anyone else all that well. It took some effort and conversation, but soon we all found common ground and shared interests. Pretty soon, our group and the Hillel students from Illinois had meshed together into one Jewish micro-community of volunteers. Our bonds solidified through the time that we spent living together and accomplishing the tasks we were assigned on our work sites. Hearing tough stories from survivors, first responders, and those committed to the long term recovery allowed everyone to be more vulnerable and share. I believe because we had such a tight-knit group, we were able to motivate each other to accomplish as much as we could during our volunteering hours, and keep our spirits lifted as we worked to help rebuild homes, businesses, and communities.
I’m looking forward to celebrating Shabbat together and volunteering with my AB cohort back home in San Francisco. I think we can take our experience here in Texas and influence our friends and connections to find their own ways to give back, so they too can see how transformative these experiences are for those who volunteer, not just those who need help.