Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alternative Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity in El, Paso Texas the First Two Days

Hofstra ASB students hard at work!
Arrival: For the next week, twelve students and two staff members from Hofstra are volunteering their spring breaks to go to El Paso, Texas and work with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for families in need. Along with the beautiful culture and history in El Paso, coming here gives us an opportunity to learn more about the US/Mexican border. On April 8th, at approximately 6 a.m. our adventure began, here is our journey. Enjoy!

After arriving in the wonderfully sunny city of El Paso, we drove through the desert and found our home for the next few days at a cozy church near the Franklin Mountains. We met our host, and quickly settled in before being whisked away to a lovely dinner at the home of a Habitat for Humanity board member. We drove through the mountains and got a taste of the landscape and scenery of the southwest. We had a delicious welcome dinner and went for a walk through a neighbor that was set in the mountains. We were able to see all of El Paso, the border of New Mexico and the city of Juarez, Mexico. We began our discussion about immigration by learning some interesting statistics about El Paso and Juarez. We headed back to our headquarters and watched the sunset and the desert lighting begin. After a very extensive shopping trip at Walmart, we headed back to our headquarters and began settling in for the night. Surprisingly enough, around 11:30 p.m. it began pouring. What do twelve college students do when it starts raining in the desert? Dance in the rain, of course. So for over an hour we danced in the rain, played volleyball, and bonded. Then we remembered we had to get some sleep before our first long day of work with Habitat for Humanity so we all hit the hay.
ASB Advisor Terry Greis overseeing house work
Day 1 : We woke up early and got our selves mentally prepared for an exhausting day of work, but I think we all underestimated how rewarding and fun it would be. Before heading to the house we were working on, Ozzy, our construction host, took us on a brief tour through the city of El Paso and to see the border. Ozzy told us about his upbringing in Juarez and how much the community and relationship with El Paso has changed over the past few decades. We took countless pictures of us at the border and then headed over to the house we were going to be working on all day. Eight hours later we were all covered in dust, paint, sweat or some combination of the three. Our projects ranged from shoveling rock and landscaping, to painting walls and rooms and some sheet-rocking. We all were exhausted from the sun and definitely more tan afterward. The most rewarding part of working today was being able to see the immediate results. We were able to see a cleaned up front yard, rooms painted and more walls put in. It was interesting to see how the Habitat programs in El Paso differed from those in New York, based on income, neighborhoods and area. The home we worked on was a three bedroom house in a good area that needed some improvement. I, personally, can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished. After the first day of work we headed to Sonic for half-price slushies! It was a great way to cool off after all our work. We all raced home and showered to try and get some of the dirt and paint off of our skin. Tonight we’re heading to Stateline BBQ, a barbecue place on the border of New Mexico. It is supposed to be the best BBQ in the El Paso area! I will let you know tomorrow how it compares to the BBQ in New York.

- Zoe Hoffmann, Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Student Coordinator


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