Habitat for Humanity Group Project

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 Hammer and nails in hand, ladders in place, and some of us even with power tools, all 18 of the Duke Engage participants headed to just outside downtown Durham to help build a Habitat for Humanity home.  I was excited to have a chance to work on a project with the other students in DE Durham since I am the only one assigned to my site, but I had never built a house before so I had no idea what to expect.

When we first arrived at the construction site, I was surprised to see that we were not the only ones volunteering that day; in fact, there were at least 20 other volunteers at the site, but after we introduced ourselves and learned the tasks we would be working on, I was glad to know that we had such a big group.

We were divided up into smaller groups and each assigned a specific task in the house.  My partner Hal and I were instructed to nail an 18inch long 2-by-4 piece of wood to the frame of the front porch.  This required each of us to be on a ladder holding the wood above our heads and nailing it to the wall.  At first we managed to get the wood up to its location, but once it was up there, we realized that with our little expertise it would be impossible to nail the wood down with one hand while holding it above our heads with the other.  So, we ended up recruiting the help of Karen, Mimi, Jasmine, and Hyunkoo.  Hammering the nails down was much harder than I had ever imagined!  Construction workers make it look so simple: they hit the nail 3 times with the hammer and the nail is in all the way.  For us, however, it took about 15 hits before the nail was in to the depth required.  Despite the difficulties, we were able to finish the task within the time we were there, by working together as a group; we would rotate turns hammering down nails, and aid each other in climbing the ladders and grabbing materials. We made it work!

Overall, despite the arduous work we performed at Habitat for Humanity, I really liked the experience because not only was I able to work together with other Duke Engage participants that I had not had the chance to work with previously, but I also have a much higher appreciation for the work construction workers perform!

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