From student blogger An: Best break ever of my studying abroad!

From student blogger An: Best break ever of my studying abroad!

June 29th, 2015

Photo: Patrick’s Point State Park in Trinidad, California

by An Okada

What are you doing for summer break? Do you relax, go to the beach, spend time with family? I usually do these things during my breaks, but my 2015 spring break in America was totally different. I spent my spring break collecting garbage, planting trees, gardening, and building relationships with other students who care about sustainability. Yes, I joined Sonoma State University (SSU) Alternative Spring Breaks

SSU Alternative Spring Breaks are weeklong trips that focus on specific social issues and students bring what we learn back to our own campus and community. This year SSU Alternative Spring Breaks went on five trips focusing on: Native American Culture, Hunger and Homelessness, Food Justice, Gender Issues, and Sustainability. I chose the Sustainability trip because I was really interested in the nature of California. The Sustainability group went to Humboldt State, California.

One of the best projects for me was when my group went to Arcata Community Forest. The forest was so beautiful and many people come there to hike. But, unfortunately, there was some trash in the forest, so we picked it up. Because there were some hard slopes, I lost my energy very quickly. I was nervous because it was the very first service project and I thought I would be exhausted very quickly. After the group completed the cleaning, I really enjoyed planting a few trees. I was surprised that the baby trees were so strong; I was holding the tops of the trees when I was carrying them. I was also surprised that trees need so much time to grow up. The tree that I planted will become an adult tree after my generation has passed away.

Also, I was glad to work in Patrick's Point State Park. Our project was pulling out English ivy because it chokes the growth of the trees. I was surprised because I thought the ivy looked beautiful, but it disturbed the trees' lives. Sometimes my trip members climbed the trees to get at the ivy. And most of us got extremely dirty. But, I was not too tired to do this project because I had my friends and working with friends together made it fun. A lot of energy was necessary for this project because the English ivy is so strong—it took a lot of people-power to remove it.

Through the Alternative Spring Break, I learned the importance of sustainable life and that all people should care about nature. I was inspired by the people who were working for the sustainability. I also learned the importance of my friends. My friends and I always helped each other and made the great memories. I highly recommend Alternative Breaks to anyone who goes to an American school and has a chance to join.

Have a great summer break!

An Okada, who is from Japan, is a senior majoring in English Literature at Sonoma State University in California. 

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