Building homes and friendships during Reading Week

Though the trip she is leading doesn’t depart for three months, Rachel Housser is ready to cut to the chase and return to Sumter, South Carolina. Last February, the Medical Sciences student took part in Brock’s Alternative Reading Week program for the first time, but it would not be her last.

Housser was so impacted by the week she spent building homes in Sumter for Habitat for Humanity that she quickly applied to be a leader for this year’s trip.

“It’s not a relaxing trip, but the work is extremely rewarding,” she said. “We always have a good group who are ready to work and have a lot of fun with each other.”

After a two-day bus trip to Sumter, which Housser says featured a lot of movies, candy and getting to know each other, the team arrived ready to take on a week of construction projects — an unfamiliar yet rewarding task for participants.

“You don’t need any prior knowledge about construction — just a willingness to learn,” said Housser. “There was a time on the work site when we all decided to give each other nicknames. My name was Cutter, because I was cutting wood for two days straight.”

Away from the work site, the team also experienced the welcoming atmosphere the region is renowned for.

“I learned a lot about southern hospitality,” said Housser. “The people there are so giving and selfless. They put their best foot forward all the time, even when circumstances are more difficult.”

To reciprocate some of the hospitality they were shown, the team hosted a dinner for the families who would be living in the homes they were building, which added an extra dimension to their construction efforts.

“The whole neighbourhood is Habitat for Humanity houses and we got to meet all of their children,” she said. “Playing with their kids was very enlightening and helped us to see firsthand who the work was affecting.”

Having made a last-minute decision to take part in the trip last year, Housser hopes those interested in participating in this year’s trip will sign up early to ensure they are prepared for a busy time away from school.

“Mentally preparing is really important, and signing up now gets you connected with your team early and helps you plan your assignments accordingly” she said.

With spots filling quickly, Housser wants all members of the Brock community to consider taking part in this year’s trip from Sunday, Feb. 15 to Sunday, Feb. 23 during the Winter Reading Week.

“It really is an experience you can’t get anywhere else,” she said. “The setting, the people, the new skills you learn and the lifelong friendships you form all come together to make this an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Members of the Brock community who are interested in learning more about the trip to Sumter are invited to visit the Alternative Reading Week event post on the ExperienceBU website.

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