Class of 2017 Continues Long Tradition
By Dr. Sara Romeyn, Director of Humanities & Global Studies
For many years, graduating seniors have used the time period between exams and graduation to perform service or internships, but historically, these were individual projects, identified by the students and done in isolation.
In 2010, we introduced our first group Habitat for Humanity trip when some teachers took a group of 18 graduating seniors to Argentina for a 10-day service trip with Habitat. There, we performed repairs on homes that had been damaged in floods and also had the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of Argentina.
The benefits of this switch were immediately evident—students were able to complete their high school experience by working collectively with a group of peers. We also discovered that the impact of group service was greater than what could be accomplished individually.
In the years since, the program has grown to involve all graduating seniors. This year, more than 130 students participated in one of seven trips across the United States. The Habitat builds took us to locations ranging from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Delaware and Virginia, to the Carolinas and lastly to Taos, New Mexico.
Trips are led by Bullis staff members, and each group includes 15 to 24 students. Over the course of the week, students perform approximately 35 hours of service on projects ranging from clean-up and landscaping to home repairs and new home construction. During off hours, students have an opportunity to enjoy the unique culture of each area whether taking the tram to the highest point in Pittsburgh for a scenic view, enjoying the beaches of Delaware and VIrginia, sampling "low country" cuisine in Charleston, or touring the Taos Pueblo. Other free time activities include movies, bowling, water balloon fights and even a dodgeball game.
"The habitat trip was, hands down, one of my best Bullis experiences," said Joey Zimmermann '17, who worked on the Eastern Shore. "Knowing that we were able to directly help build a house for a family in need felt great. Plus, our class was close already but the trip brought our group even closer. A highlight was being able to sit down with everyone at night and eat dinner together and share stories.
Anna Singh '17 agreed: "My classmates and I felt a sense of purpose in the work we were doing, and we wanted to carry out each task with great care so that the future homeowners received nothing but the best. We were able to witness an incredible moment where a women found out she was getting a house, and seeing her excitement and deep gratitude first hand was such a touching experience."
The students also made an impact on their construction supervisors, like Harvey Carrow in Central Delaware, who said, "All of the students appreciated the mission of Habitat and worked hard to get the work done. They were extremely focused the entire time and were instrumental in our accomplishing a great many of things in the time they were here."