Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 2

Good morning world! Brett Richman here in beautiful and sunny Miami, Florida at Hillel and City Year Alternative Spring Break!!!

I am amazed over and over again at how much I am able to learn on these Hillel and City Year Alternative Break trips, this being my fourth one as a participant, especially when having the opportunity to return to the community that I volunteered in just a few months back in January. Yesterday (Monday March 19, 2012) the group went back to the cemetery where we had done service prior. Seeing the transformation from just a few months ago brought back great memories as well as pushed me to do more to make an even bigger impact this time around. We planted numerous new trees around the border of the cemetery and raked leaves away from otherwise unnoticed grave-markers.

Hearing from other participants on the trip of how they "uncovered markers that the grounds-keeper did not even know existed" lends me to believe we made that greater impact this time around. I am sure that between this day of service, combined with what we were able to accomplish in January with Hillel Alternative Break, made a lasting impact on the cemetery, the staff of the Temple that it is adjacent too and the citizens of Miami and other areas who use the historic site (the first cemetery in Miami), especially when the grounds-keeper made it clear that they only plant trees and pull weeds about once a year, otherwise the cemetery goes heavily under-maintained.

After lunch we regrouped to view a mashup of "Waiting for Superman" and another documentary that shows the other side of the story. I think a majority of us had seen "Waiting for Superman" or had atleast heard of it and what the directors goal was with the movie. We all knew that there was another side of the story but seeing both sides in film form together was much more eye-opening than I had imagined. It instilled and reaffirmed a greater sense of duty in everyone on the trip that this week we will not just be beautifying these schools but will be making potential lasting impacts on these students' lives to urge them to not drop out of school, to not give up on the public school system and to strive to go to college and gain higher and higher degrees to be able to better themselves and their existing communities.

Today (Tuesday March 20, 2012) will be our first day working with the Middle School students in Miami. To my understanding we will be continuing to do some great work with City Year by building tables for a lunch area, touching up some older paint jobs and also painting some new murals for the school. In the afternoons some of us will head to another local Middle School to do participate in after school programming whereas the rest will stay and do the same.

I am 100% certain that this Alternative Break group will leave its lasting mark on the city of Miami and the schools it will begin to work with this morning. As for the PT with City Year I am really hoping they bust out the 'Peel the Banana' and 'Our Boots are on Fire' stuff this morning, always a great way to start a day and bring back some of the greatest memories I've had in my undergraduate University experience.

Brett Richman

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