Over the recent fall break, I had the opportunity to co-lead an Alternate Service Experience with a fellow Wilson Scholar and great friend, Emma Labovitz. This ASE was specifically designed for the Wilson Scholars Program, so five other Wilson Scholars accompanied us on the trip to Raleigh, NC. Over the weekend we worked with Interfaith Food Shuttle, an organization that helps battle hunger in North Carolina. Our group of seven students and one advisor split into two groups and helped with different things each day.
On the first day, my group helped bag 200 lunches for elementary school students who received free and reduced-price lunches. After we finished bagging the lunches, we started to organize fresh produce to distribute to senior citizens in assisted living homes. My favorite part of the day was talking to the senior citizens when we delivered the fresh produce to their doors. They were all so happy, and some of them wanted to talk to us. I thought that seeing their smiles made the whole trip so much better because we had the opportunity to see our work pay off and help someone out.
The next day, we got to do what the other group was doing on the first day--helping to build a fence for the goats at Interfaith Food Shuttle's farm in Raleigh. It was very interesting to learn about the level of food insecurity present in my own hometown, Raleigh. I felt a little embarrassed that I did not realize there was an issue this significant so near to me and I had no idea about it.
On the last day, both groups came together, and we helped mulch and fill gardens with soil in Interfaith Food Shuttle's urban garden. I really enjoyed this hard work because we were able to see actual change in the garden, and we left knowing that we did as much as we could in the short time we were there. This whole trip was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from Emma about Alternative Service Experiences and how to lead.
Written by: Jake Powell
Learn more about Alternative Service Experience opportunities at https://ase.appstate.edu/.
Photos by: Sonya Long