When I first applied for the 2013 MAlt trip to New York City, titled “Examining a Broken Justice System,” I didn’t really know what I was applying for. I thought it would be something different, something far more meaningful than my usual Feb break pastime of sitting on the couch at home (not that that would be hard to beat on the “meaningful” scale). The topic really stuck out to me, too. I’d lived my whole life just miles from the oldest running prison in the state of Massachusetts, yet I would drive past it twice a day without a second thought, my only knowledge of what stood behind the concrete walls and glass-enclosed watch towers stemming from one curious Google Maps exploration.
Turns out, I wasn’t wrong about the trip – our activities and discussions were eye opening, thought provoking, and educational. However, the most long-lasting memories from that week came not from the planned component but rather from the interactions and conversations we had as a group. In all honesty, I cannot imagine any other time when this unlikely group of people would have interacted, especially on campus at Middlebury. We hadn’t before, and we haven’t since, really. It was hard, too – we faced many challenges at times, particularly in regards to group agreement on certain issues. For the most part, however, we also became incredibly close during that week – sharing hours of extremely personal and emotional details through “My Life” stories, laughing until our stomachs hurt (or someone peed…not naming names, though), getting in heated debates, and shoveling snow so that we could actually make it back to school after a surprise blizzard hit. Most things didn’t really go as planned during the week, and in many ways it was a disaster – but on other levels, that brought us even closer together. While we’re not all suddenly best friends, and most of us don’t interact besides the passing “hey,” that week will always remain an often-unacknowledged but ever-present connection that we both share.
-Hannah Reeve ’15
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