Where was I for reading week in February you may ask? Well, no I was not in Cancun lying on the beach with my friends. February 16th-24th, I was in Sumter, South Carolina. Brock University has this program called “Alternative Reading Break” and they just so happened to need volunteers to BUILD A HOUSE for Habitat for Humanity! I found out about this program a week before they were leaving and I could not pass up this opportunity. I made the spontaneous decision to join in on this experience. An experience I would never forget. A once in a life time experience. I’ve always wanted to build a house for a family in need. Not only were my dreams coming true but I was making someone else’s dreams come true. But not just one person, I’m talking a real family that needed help, a mother, father, and a teenage daughter.
I was nervous for two reasons. One being that I missed all the meetings, so I was going into this not knowing anyone. This was a true test for stepping out of my comfort zone. Secondly, I had NO experience whatsoever with a hammer and nails (or anything of that sort). So off I went, bags packed for a week, heading onto a bus, with 30 other students, for a long 17 hour bus ride.
During the week, every night, we had a group meeting to reflect on our day. This included coming up with a word to summarize how we were feeling. My words varied from, eager, accomplished and proud. I was eager to start building. I was eager to learn how to use various tools, work efficiently, and listen to directions so we could get tasks done as fast as possible. I was eager to make tons of new friends and learn more about them. I was eager to make a difference in society and meet the family and people from the community. I was proud because most of us came into this not knowing anyone and not having any experience in building a house and we ended up becoming like one big family overcoming and accomplishing so much together!
By the end of the week, my expectations were exceeded. I would have never guessed we would accomplish as much as we did in so little time. The teamwork was amazing. Even though most days it was freezing and we were exhausted, everyone was still happy and having a good time. Building the house was very enjoyable for me and I looked forward to it every morning (I have never woke up so fast at 6:30a.m).
It was a learning experience and I was impacted in many ways. The family, the construction workers, the locals, the organization, were so friendly and welcoming. Even though the family was in a bad situation, they still had smiles on their faces and were always positive. I learned to not take things in life for granted and to look for the good in people and in bad situations. I learned to not judge people because you don’t know their story. I also left an impact by giving my time, energy, and heart to help strangers. My goal is to motivate others to do the same.
Watch: Brock University Alternative Reading Break Video – Sharing our thoughts and feelings we experienced during this incredible opportunity.