Not Your Ordinary Spring Break

By Fallon Gokhman, Class of 2018

Fallon Gokhman '18 in Oklahoma

Fallon Gokhman ’18 in Oklahoma

I’m ashamed to admit that I was not very enthusiastic before my first trip to Oklahoma this past March. The few days leading up to spring break, all my friends were enthusiastically boasting about their upcoming trips to Cancun, Miami, and the Bahamas. Meanwhile, I was headed to the middle of nowhere. Of course, I knew my time helping rebuild homes in Oklahoma would be very well spent, but I couldn’t help being jealous of my friends.

As that week went by, Oklahoma won my heart with its kind, friendly people, strong sense of community, motivation, and sunsets – Oklahoma has some pretty spectacular sunsets. My group was able to hear from a number of tornado survivors, and although they all had different stories and experiences, they shared the same underlying message and appreciation of family and community. I came back to school with a new perspective, and I laughed at myself for being less than thrilled to spend my spring break in Oklahoma.

It felt good to help people who were so appreciative of every little thing. Of course, as college students, none of us were particularly, or even remotely, skilled in construction, but the homeowners we met still showed gratitude.

Fallon Gokhman '18 (center) with 2 other volunteers in Oklahoma

Fallon Gokhman ’18 (center) with 2 other volunteers in Oklahoma

My spring break experience encouraged me to go back to Oklahoma earlier this month to help with the 1 Day Ranch Barn-raising. This experience was much different than the first. For one thing, I wasn’t surrounded by fellow college students. Rather, there were groups of volunteers from all over the country, even outside of the United States. They were all gathered to help rebuild a barn that had been destroyed by natural disaster. Some volunteers even had their own bitter experiences with natural disaster, but they were offered help themselves, and so here they were, indirectly returning a favor. It was amazing to see so many dedicated volunteers on-site working all day in the harsh heat.  My fellow volunteers would agree that we spent those few days with some of the kindest, most interesting people, and the best part was being able to learn from them and work alongside them to build this barn, so appreciated by its owner.

I always say it’s the people you encounter that make life experiences so memorable, and this trip to Oklahoma, volunteering at the 1 Day Ranch Barn-raising, is no exception. There are some incredible people in this world; they’ll go out of their way, inconvenience themselves, and drive hundreds of miles just to offer a helping hand. These are the people that make rebuilding efforts in disaster-stricken areas possible.

Alternative Spring Break with Rutgers Hillel March 2014 in Oklahoma

Fallon Gokhman ’18 on Alternative Spring Break with Rutgers Hillel
March 2014 in Oklahoma

Looking for a meaningful way to spend your spring break? If you are inspired by Fallon’s story and want a life-changing experience like she had, you can apply now for this year’s Alternative Spring Break trip to Little Rock, Arkansas. The trip dates are Sunday March 15 to Sunday, March 22, 2015. Click here for the application.