Spring Break 2019

I know it’s been a long time!

Since moving in, I feel like I’ve changed a lot, but that’s something I’ll touch on in a later freshman reflection post. I’m in the process of making a video for freshman year to compensate for the FOMO I left everyone with.

Recently I went on Spring Break, and as much as I wanted to go home to Boston, I had the privilege and opportunity to go to Kanab, Utah on an alternative spring break program hosted by McCarthy Honors Residential College. There were 10 of us total selected from McCarthy. Some of us were vegan/vegetarians or well-informed about animal rights issues, while some were not. We are an incredibly diverse group, speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, Farsi, Telugu, French, Mandarin, Pashto, Gujarati, and German, hailing from all over the U.S. with roots all over the world. We had majors ranging from Chemical Engineering to Architecture to Geo Design to Business Administration to East Asian Studies. I really appreciated this refreshing and concentrated diversity.

We spent the week as volunteers at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, assisting in tasks from cleaning to socializing animals to weeding. Though these services may seem unimpressive and minute, we were educated to realize that our work had immense value in increasing the animals’ quality of life– and that was all we really wanted to achieve as volunteers.

I mentioned before that “we were educated to realize” our impact. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary did an incredible job showing us that our services were not only appreciated, but necessary in the short and long term. For example, we dedicated one afternoon to weeding and deep cleaning a vacant run (run = temporary holding unit for lost/abandoned animals) in Fredonia, AZ. This task was crucial to the well being of the animals that would temporarily inhabit the run, and helped to maintain amiable relations between Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the town of Fredonia, AZ. We were informed that the run was infrequently maintained, as the town of Fredonia, AZ had allowed Best Friends to build the facility on their property, despite having no obligation to, in order to provide interim housing for the town’s lost/abandoned animals.

Other than the manual and administrative tasks, education was an exceptional part of our experience. Room was made in our schedules to attend workshops and lectures about No Kill and Trap-Neuter-Release initiatives, as well as a lecture about the Science of Animal Happiness by Dr. Frank McMillan. As volunteers merely cleaning or learning, we wouldn’t have had any idea about the value of what we were doing without the context that Best Friends provided. Best Friends outreach representatives, Deb and Brittany, did a wonderful job providing context for every task that was assigned, answering all our questions (easy or difficult), and even putting in the effort to ask us about our passions, careers, and hometowns.

Outside of our time at the sanctuary, the 10 of us and our 2 team leads embarked on excursions to Zion, Bryce, and Coral Pink Sand Dunes National Parks. Every night, we cooked a plant based meal together — family style. After dinner and chores, we all played card games, watched movies, looked up our birth charts and entertained astrological assumptions or did Chemistry/Architecture/Business homework into the depths of the night (sometimes until early morning).

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There is no way that this short word vomit is eloquent, detailed, nor emotional enough to communicate the pride we all have in the work that we did nor the impact that the people and animals of Best Friends has made on the 12 of us — so I will sum things up in three lessons and a video:

  1. Good hiking boots go a long way.
  2. Adopt, don’t shop!
  3. You don’t need to change the world, just a world.

Please watch in HD if possible! Video courtesy of Jose B.

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