AJ Carter is a junior at Royal Oak High School and is Vice-President of Interact. This is his third Alternative February Break trip.

Brooke Blackwell is a freshman at Royal Oak High School, and this is her first relief trip.

I am truly blessed to say that this is my third year going on the Interact Trip. When I first heard about the trip my freshman year, each year I gain something new that I would have never have gotten anywhere else!

On the trip down we hit a massive snow storm and got held up in Kentucky. There were accidents left and right creating huge traffic jams resulting in the longest NRN bus ride I have ever experienced. The total bus ride from Royal Oak, Michigan to Holly Springs, Mississippi was a whopping 20 hours! We got in super late Sunday night and went right to bed!

The next morning we slept in a little longer than usual to compensate for the late bed time. We ate breakfast and got all our things for a work filled day. We packed all our tools and bags onto the bus and sat waiting to take off to our worksites. The bus started moving and we were off but not for long…. We drove over the grass to get to the road and the bus got stuck! We tried everything from hay to wood to plastic netting to try and get some ground to get the wheels moving. Nothing would move this bus! We finally go the bus out after a good amount of time and we finally got to go to our worksites!

The worksite that I was at involved picking up debris that was all over the homeowner’s property. This property already had a rebuilt house from the devastating tornado but the property was covered in garbage. Through all the mud we pulled everything from tires, glass, wood, and metal. While clearing some of the debris I found some photographs from the homeowner. Many people lost everything in these tornadoes! This helped open my eyes to everything these people lost and made me realize all my fortunes back at home.

We have had a crazy two days and I cannot wait for everything else to come! Through each trip I gain things that are truly remarkable and that will carry with me. I always recommend this trip to everyone because it shows you help is always needed even if it doesn’t seem like it back at home.


 

You know that strange, surreal feeling you get when you realize that every single person around you has a life just as complex and complicated as yours? Seeing the wreckage of a home my first ever day on a site felt a bit similar to that, except you got to see into that complex and complicated life first hand in the worst possible way. For the most part we picked up debris from trees and bits of the house, but picking up the personal items felt sad and almost invasive. We found old photographs and medals, things that showed signs of hobbies and interests. It was hard to discard things that you knew could have meaning to a person. The realization that you were looking at the physical tatters of a human life was hard hitting, and it was a feeling I know people on the trip won’t forget.

The many hours leading up to the actual work were chock full of surprises. On the bus ride there we got hit by a snowstorm and due to the fact I was on a bus with a group of rowdy teenagers it felt as though we were moving about an inch every hour. The bus hour that was supposed to take us to arrive at around nine in the evening ended up being twenty hours long. We arrived at around two in the morning and eventually set up our stuff, settled down and got to bed. We woke up at nine in the morning to an immense amount of rain and mud and eventually managed to get into the bus to go to the work site around twelve, and then because the trip seemed to be going great already, the bus got stuck in the mud and we had to call a tow truck, finally getting to the work site around two.

The trip has been crazy and hard enough to scare someone off for good, yet I know many people who have gone on this trip year after year- and absolutely loved it, and after only a day I fully understand why. I’m very much looking forward to the big week ahead of us.