As a Campus Life Coordinator at Simmons College I have been asked to partake in some interesting events and programs. With every event I learn something about that student group and when I am really lucky I learn a little about myself. Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is one of the programs where I was challenged and learn about who I am as a staff member at Simmons and global citizen.
This year I found myself in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. The group leaders Meghan O'Beirne, Laini Cassis and Naomi Chick led the trip with nine other members and two staff members following their lead. The challenges: We woke up early, worked hard, shared a close quarters and we had to prove at times how strong women can be, especially with labor intensive work. We also faced the grim reality of living conditions for some blue collared Americans. However, the rewards from this trip overshadowed each and every one of these challenges. Working side by side with the future homeowners was a privilege. Learning about demolition work and construction taught us new skills, patience, and appreciation for perfection in craftsmanship! I built a house, built upon my skills, and built friendships.
My favorite memory is taking half the group to the demolition house. An army veteran and father of two sons had an opportunity to leave this house and move to one provided by Habitat for Humanity. In order to start this process we helped demolish their old house. Six students individually gave their all to taking down the plaster of these walls, fixtures and trim. In two hours we took down the walls of three rooms and left the last room to work on together. In unison we swung our crow bars and sledge hammers to each wall striking with passion. In 20 minutes the room was complete, we were all covered in dust and our arms were tired. We did this together and for that I am grateful.
Sometimes I learn more from a group than they may learn from me. I learned that at 5 feet tall I can use a crow bar that is 6 feet tall to knock walls and doors down. That patience is key when building a house, but most importantly that because families would be living there we needed to do our best to build this house perfectly. I learned that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to helping a community. Whether it be a community locally, nationally or internationally it's important to give back. How will you give back?