21 May 3 Every-Day Ways to Build the Bonds Made on a Service Trip
Every break from school, there is always one question that wraps around my head. This question eats at my soul until the answer is said out loud. Even after I get the answer, I second guess myself, I doubt my ability to follow through, or I might just change my mind halfway through. That question is, “What Netflix series should I binge?”
Seriously, that is the hardest thing that many college students have to think about over break. What series should I watch and how long will it take me to do it? Two years ago, I went through 5 seasons of Game of Thrones in a week. I know. I know. Why did I wait to watch Game of Thrones until 5 seasons came out? I don’t know why, because the show is legendary.
The University of Delaware understands the struggle of their students to find a valuable use of their time over the breaks. That is why there are Alternative Spring Break Trips. We have one week off, right before Easter. During this time people have three options:
- Go home and answer that complicated Netflix question,
- work (?),
- or pack up and do some community service with a bunch of friends in another state.
This past break, I decided to go on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to New Bern, North Carolina with the Blue Hen Leadership Program at UD. We worked with Habitat for Humanity all week, addressing the issue of affordable housing. Fifteen of us stayed in the basement of a local church, sleeping on Red Cross cots, shopping for food at Walmart, and building bonds with friends that will stand out from any other experience at the University.
In one week, I made 15 close friends. There are clear reasons that we became so close so quickly, and I think that it can easily be duplicated within your community every day. It breaks down into three steps.
Step One: Rapport
At the beginning of the week, I didn’t know anyone on the trip well. I had brief conversations with all of them, but not really in depth.
Throughout the week, we often asked each other deep or unique questions. By the end of the first day, we all knew what each other’s majors were and where we were from, so we had to get creative after that. We built rapport by talking about our hobbies and interests, our beliefs and values, our plans for the future, and our fears.
A week of being together really pushed us to be creative with our conversations; we had no choice. Small talk was done after two seconds. I remember one moment when I was putting shingles on a roof with one of the people on the trip. We were up there for hours, and we had some fantastic conversations. Through that conversation, we built a lot of rapport.
If you are past small talk with your team members, how can you get creative with your conversations?
Step Two: Moment Sharing
I was stuck with these people for a week; it was hard not to make memories. But I like to call lasting memories “moments.” I have a memory of each time we woke up in the morning, but all 15 of us share a moment when we were cooking dinner and dancing in the kitchen. Moments are what I can look back on and say, “that was a really fun week.” We share moments of laughter, moments of triumph after raising a house wall, and moments that are shared by all of us.
These moments are important because that is what brings us the joy of being together. When we see each other, I am instantly reminded of our car ride sing-alongs and petting that one dog that looked like a bear. If you can’t identify these moments with your team, you better get cracking on creating them! They can be as simple as having a memorable coffee break or breaking out into song when the energy is low.
What moments do you share with your team? What are the potential new ones?
Step Three: HAVE FUN
There isn’t much to say on this one. HAVE SOME FUN, why don’t you? How on earth are we supposed to get close to our team if all we do is work?
We worked all day, doing handiwork that most of us didn’t have experience with at all. Yet, we found a way to laugh at our mistakes and laugh at how much we didn’t know. We cracked jokes and danced on the work site.
Work hard, play hard, and HAVE FUN.
Building relationships takes time. The amount you put into it is the amount you get out of it. With these three steps, you have a blueprint to fostering these relationships. Just build rapport, share some moments, and don’t forget to have fun with each other.