No matter how many times you hear about something, whether it is a place, a person, an event, etc., there is always that element of surprise. In my case, nothing could have been a more pleasant shock than the Habitat for Humanity trip over spring break.
I must have heard speech after speech about how wonderful an experience the trip is and how many friendships you make along the way; however, you cannot truly understand the feeling of accomplishment until you experience it for yourself.
On the first day I got on the bus filled with rowdy teenagers running on about two hours of sleep. Not yet acquainted with most of them, I took to a more secluded area of the bus. Arriving at the house I was immediately forced into a situation with people I truly had never had more than a one-minute conversation with. But, without exception, by the end of the week, I was completely comfortable with not only my roommates, but also every other student and teacher on the trip.
As the week continued, a sense of comradeship built between every single one of us. We now not only were familiar with each other, but we trusted each other, in many cases, with our safety. There was always a helping hand, no matter what the situation. I particularly had a few moments of pure frustration where I was about ready to give up, but someone always arrived immediately to encourage and help me to get the job done.
Of course, the friendships and bonds were only half of the experience. Being able to leave the work site everyday and see what was accomplished was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. In just one day our group turned a slab of wood into the entire frame of a house. By the end of three days we had the roof up and every piece of the house covered. It actually looked like a real home! I will jump at the chance to go on this trip again next year if only to experience that sense of achievement one more time. It is a feeling that will never leave me.
Years from now, when I think back on the experience, I won’t remember the fact that I could barely maneuver in my room of seven girls, that the one bathroom was constantly becoming flooded or that my entire body felt like one big bruise. What I will remember are all of the friendships that I made and the indescribable feeling I got every time I completed a task, whether it was putting up the frame of a house, or filling a pond with dirt. Those memories will stay with me forever.