I love where I’m from, but like most Marylanders, I love the idea of getting out of here even more. When a relatively new teacher posted signs around the school about going to North Carolina during Spring Break, I was not the only one who saw that as the perfect opportunity. (What could really be better than a week without your parents in a new state?) I filled out my application and by default, being one of the only 12 kids that actually applied, we had a perfect batch of kids to go to North Carolina. We were told that the purpose of the trip was to volunteer and help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, but after the trip was over, we realized the deeper purpose, orchestrated by the new teacher and our soon to be tribe leader, was for us to reconnect as friends (most of our junior class had been drifting apart socially and emotionally because of the tough course load thrown upon us at a top tier arts school) and at the same time get a deeper philosophical understanding of why we try to help people in the first place.
From the moment we stepped in the van, all of us were slightly afraid. Here we were: 12 kids who had known each other, but were in different social cliques (for the most part); we were all sitting in a van with a teacher that only one of us had before and his friend, Cynthia, whom none of us had ever met before the trip. To make matters more awkward, they took our phones away for the entire trip to force us into interacting. It seemed like it was going to be a long seven hour ride to North Carolina and a long trip, but I definitely could not complain because I wanted it to be long. (For me, the more time away from my parents and brother, the better.)
While we were in North Carolina, we helped work on two houses for Habitat for Humanity. When we came, the basement and foundation of one of the houses was done. We put up the first and second floor (in a week)! We truly “started from the bottom.” Two of our group members were stage technicians, so they knew how to use hammers, but the rest of us were learning as we go. Learning to build something from the ground up was a beautiful experience and seeing what we accomplished at the end of the week was a true breath of fresh air. It was heart-shattering to think that we were leaving on Saturday.
North Carolina was a place where the grass was truly greener. Who knew that just taking away phones and forcing kids to work would make them feel so close? We all had our energy focused towards one collaborative effort. It caused us to become a family and gave North Carolina a special place in our hearts.
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