When I woke up on Friday I could not believe that the week was actually over. Once again YJ had pulled off one of the best weeks of my life. The experiences, the lessons, the laughs, the stories, and the fun, and all went by so quickly, and I couldn’t believe it.

This AWB was simply like no other. For many of my friends that I was there with, this year’s Alternative Winter Break wasn’t our first and, for a lot of us, would be our last as we’re headed off to Israel on Year Course in just eight months. I can’t think of a better possible week to cap off the plethora of AWB memories we have.

I made it my mission this year to go out of my way during every volunteering experience to talk to as many of the New Orleans’ residents as possible, to hear their stories and lessons, which made everything so much more personal. Lives that were once so normal, so typical, were swept away with the storm nine years ago, and nothing has been done to help them since. Hearing the individual chronicles everywhere I went made me open my eyes; one second we could be on Burban Street in the well-off French Quarter full of wealth and tourism. Moments later, we could hop on the bus, drive 25 minutes, and then arrive in the still decimated Lower Ninth Ward, a parish that has recieved hardly any help in revitalizing its community since the hurricane, still living in impoverished ruins.

This is what we do in Young Judaea. We go into places where there isn’t a voice being heard, and we help out in any and all ways possible. It’s true, we made a difference in the world this week, but even more than that, we made some people smile, we helped some individuals out that may have not received it otherwise. We saw the truth of what this country is like, and the suffering that some endure while others turn a blind eye on them. We saw things, heard things, and did things that the average high schooler would never experience on their winter breaks, and that is what we do in YJ.

It’s okay to not accept the world as it is, but it’s time to do something about it.

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