A Time to Speak – Students take an ‘alternative’ spring break

Students of the University of Louisville who are actively involved in Catholic campus ministry took an “alternative” spring break — or an ASB, as the students refer to it — March 13 to 18. Instead of relaxing, 34 students spent the holiday time working on a Habitat for Humanity House in Atlantic Beach, Florida. Following are reflections from a few of these students.

Sarah Phelan
As a fifth-year senior, I have had plenty of spring breaks. This year was my first year going on ASB and, reflecting on the week, I am sad it was my only one.
Yes, my other spring breaks were fun.

Last year I went skiing in Colorado, and in previous years, I went to Arizona with perfectly warm weather with some much-needed relaxation. But attending ASB in Florida with a wonderful group of people doing amazing service work has been more than fulfilling, and I am still putting all my thoughts together.

In the weeks leading up to spring break, I was unsure of what to expect. In years past, while hanging out in the Interfaith Center (IFC, at the university of Louisville), I heard everyone’s stories and saw how happy and excited they were when they got back.

But with all of this, I was not prepared for what the week would bring. I saw how everyone seemed more connected with each other, somehow refreshed and having a sense of fulfillment.

I have gone on a mission trip in the past and have completed many hours of service work, so I had some sort of idea of the work I would be doing with Habitat for Humanity.

I never could have imagined what I experienced on this trip. Everyone was more than willing to help others and I was so taken aback. We were all exhausted, dehydrated and probably experienced a small form of overheating. But, from what I saw, no one blinked an eye when they were asked for their help. Everyone was ready to help and do God’s work.

The leaders from Habitat and AmeriCorps were awesome leaders and exemplified God’s work, as well. Along with the amazing churches we stayed at, the women and men who provided us delicious lunches each day made the trip even better. The bonding games that we played and the car rides are small pieces, but complete the crazy puzzle of ASB. Without each little piece, the puzzle would not have been complete.

When I first walked into the IFC spring semester of freshmen year, I was a quiet kid. College, working at the IFC and the amazing people I have met throughout my 4-and-a-half years at the University of Louisville have helped shape me into the more talkative person I am now. I consider everyone as a second family and the IFC as a second home.

I think that the ASB was the week I needed to help me end my college career and move onto the next stage of my life.

While writing this, it was hard to hold back the tears. I hate crying … but it was a week I will never forget. I was fulfilled spiritually, mentally, physically and socially. So much so, that it will take me weeks to fully comprehend everything that happened. Adding in the fact that I graduate in two months makes its worse. I learned so much and gained so much experience in areas I truly needed.

In the years after I leave this wonderful place, I will look back on the wonderful memories I made, friendships I gained and experience from ASB. Thank you everyone for making this the best week of my life, and I will be forever grateful.

Daniel Doremus
I went to Florida for selfish reasons. I wanted to enjoy myself with a bunch of people that I can’t hang out with a lot and I wanted to see the fruits of working out in a construction setting. I came away with a new understanding of myself and those around me.

Not all that I learned about my thinking was great. I’ve got a … long way to go before I’m a competent human, but this spring break showed me one truly special thing. We’re all in this together. We all want to love. We all desire some greater purpose or to assist in another’s life. And if only for this week out of the year, we succeeded.

We shared in God’s love in a way that could never occur otherwise. We grew together as only sleeping three feet from each other can. We saw those of good fortune, those with a total lack and the understanding that arises when the two work together for the glory of God’s Kingdom on Earth.

What I found most important about this past week was simply the ability to finally listen to the Word of God in deed rather than speech. It doesn’t happen often and it is glorious in those brief moments before life occurs once more.

Katelyn Schriever
Sacrifice is a word I heard echoed through the week. I always thought it was strange to hear people around me thank me for “giving up” my spring break, because I have never once felt like I was giving anything up. The rewards I receive each year from ASB far outweigh what I can give individually.

The power of a community united can build a house and build each other up. I feel so lucky to be a part of a community that feels like home! Thank you to all my friends and mentors who have helped teach me what Christian community and servant leadership is.

During ASB we live/work/ play together and it’s not always easy. Plans go awry. We are asked to lean into discomfort and be flexible. In these moments, there was always someone willing to step up and sacrifice for the good of the community. Whether that’s our amazing campus ministers planning late into the night and constantly responding to the needs of their students; people happy to give up some free time to help cook or clean up; my peers asking “what can I do to help?” after they’ve already done their share.

These are the moments I realize how lucky I am. This is the way God calls us to love all of our neighbors — with compassion and sacrifice.
This semester has been a bitter sweet one, filled with many “lasts” as I prepare for graduation and a new adventure. I knew that ASB would be an especially hard “last” but the main feeling left in my heart is gratitude.

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