Six weeks of living with 10 other people, crawling under houses, painting, hanging drywall, flooring and a hundred other things went a lot faster than expected. By the time we were back in Colorado and one of the other team leaders said "six weeks ago" I had to think twice, it felt like I had only just left the Aurora campus, and there I was back in the thick of it. I had no expectations going into my first round of service with NCCC, which is probably part of the reason it went so swimmingly. I'm not saying there were no issues, bouts of exhaustion and frustration were inevitable, but it was an eventful six weeks, filled with loads of laughter and smiles to counter the moans and groans.
It probably helps that I went into round 1 with no expectations, unsure of how everything would pan out. I knew I had picked a few key players for my team, but was unsure about the majority, even finding out a few days before departure of some apparent bad blood between a few. Similarly I had been told good things about my project from a previous team leader, but recent changes at Fuller Center meant either good or bad news for me and my team. Lastly Texas, I was happy to be headed south, away from cold weather, but that's about all the Lone Star State had going for it in my mind, oh and the beach, we weren't going to be too far from the beach.
From our first outing together as Earth 4, a day hike at Golden Gate State Park, I was confident our 6 weeks together would be good. I observed as much as I immersed into the group, reading friendships while also noticing where heads may later butt. That fist day we were all so new, to each other, to our team, to the ways of Americoprs NCCC life, but that all changed rather fast. Friday November 9th we hit the ground running, packed up our bags and set our sights on Texas, no turning back.
Thankfully, my assumptions were right, my team was amazing which made my job for the 6 weeks we were together much easier. I still had to play mom at times, counseling some, guiding and reminding others, but overall we usually ran like a well oiled machine. The biggest problems we had to deal with were the unexpected roommates and frequent gaps in organization from above, but that too we dealt with. Honestly, the first round went so smoothly that I have hesitation and a bit of fear for what lies ahead. I feel like I've been sitting too comfortably, starting smooth the road is bound to acquire some bumps along the way.
I appreciate so much how well my team worked together, despite personal differences, often putting the project before their wants and needs (but not always). I didn't have to beg for team participation, although there were more than a few reminders on attentive, timely and cleanliness, but those were minor. In my mind, our greatest accomplishment throughout round 1 was the level of cohesion with which we worked together, and I'm going to miss that so, so much, if it's not repeated in the coming months.
Aside from team cohesion we completed what we went to Texas to do, well kind of. There was no big ceremony, we didn't complete an entire home renovation, but we sure as hell did a lot. Most of our days were spent side by side with the homeowner, Leo, at "Palm House". Sometimes this meant we were waist deep in mud, crawling under his home working on the support system, while others were snow days, in the form of drywall dust. We bonded with the homeowner, which allowed us to really feel the effect of our work, able to see the difference it made in his life helped us feel our effect on both his family and the entire community. The recognition we gained from those we met along the way reminded us of the good we were doing, despite some days feeling our efforts were fruitless.
It's hard to summarize the entire 6 weeks, there really is no way to describe what it's like to constantly be in the company of 10 other individuals. Living, working, eating, exercising, so much of our time was spent side by side and somehow we managed to grow closer, rather than wanting to tear each other apart. I've heard from others that not all teams, and especially team leaders, felt the same way, so I'm proud of not only my team, but myself. Honestly, I didn't think I'd make it through this smoothly, although I am hesitant to round 2, but that's due in a large part to winter, and the fact that I'll be spending the next 6 weeks in the cold of Colorado, building homes in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. My only thoughts going forward are on how I can stay warm and intently hoping for a mild (warm) winter.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".