Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Students devote break to New Orleans building project

Rather than a spring break spent boozing on the beach or hanging out at home, a group of Whitman students chose one that joined work with play by traveling to New Orleans to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

“I had lately been feeling like such a privileged college student. You get here as a freshman, and it’s like, wow, people are feeding you, people are housing you,” said first-year Trevor Cushman. “I really wanted to do something I could really feel good about, that wasn’t just for me. And I did also just want to get out of the house and experience a different part of the country.”

With the help of the Center for Community Service, sophomore Steven Shoemaker organized a group of six students for a week long trip.

The trip was eye-opening for its participants, many of whom had never before traveled to the South.

“I knew it was going to be very different, and I was very prepared for it to be shocking. And it was, specifically the realization of segregation. I’d heard about that, studied it, and I have a friend who lives in North Carolina, and knew it was still a real aspect of American society. But to actually see it was really interesting,” said senior Joscelyn Barden.

According to first-year Isabel Hong, aside from occasional tourism, the students spent their week living like hard-working adults.

“Most of our days were spent waking up, we’d drive down to the site and build for a full day then after that we’d come back and just eat dinner and pass out,” said Hong.

But it wasn’t all insight and work. Much of it was just plain fun.

“We had a lot of fun too. It wasn’t that selfless –– at all. I had way more fun doing that than I would have going home. You get to hang out with kids your age, see a new part of the country, and while you’re there, work on a house. It’s a great opportunity,” said first-year Kara McKay.

For students accustomed to intellectual work and learning, the experience of physical creation was at first intimidating.

“We made a lot of jokes about how we could analyze what was going on and why those houses needed to be made, but we couldn’t make the houses when we originally got there,” said Barden.

But the experience, while at first humbling, was ultimately rewarding.

“It was something that as a totally academic person I don’t get to do that often, so in a way it’s just incredibly fulfilling to do that kind of construction,” said Cushman.

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