We finish our summer blog series with a reflection from Sophie Cohen on her time in New Orleans with our Habitat for Humanity trip this past February. Sophie is a rising senior at Masconomet High School, a counselor at Camp Pembroke, and is going to be in her second year as a Peer Leadership Fellow.
Ever since I heard about the Habitat for Humanity trip, I have always wanted to go and experience what it’s like to build a house from the start. I have an older sister who went on this trip a year before me, and I loved seeing pictures of her with her new friends at a newly built home. Everything about this trip was so appealing to me: constructing a house, meeting Jewish teens, activities outside of the construction aspect. When the trip switched locations from North Carolina (where my sister did this trip) to New Orleans, I was even more excited. I couldn’t stop thinking about everything I could do there, from seeing beautiful places to trying new foods, and of course, building a house for a deserving family.
Habitat for Humanity was an indescribable experience for me. I had an amazing time making new friends and doing everything on the itinerary. My favorite part of the whole trip was, without a doubt, helping finish the house. I tried so many new things that I never even thought had to go into the construction process. Every room, measurement, and placement had to be perfect. No matter how long a certain project in the house took, it was so much fun. Some of the many projects I did during our time working in that house include painting doors and trims, caulking trims, filling in holes in walls or doors, and measuring windows and the accompanying sills that would go with them. Never before had I really understood all the work that goes into finishing a house, as crazy as that seems. Yet, despite all the hard work we put into this house, every moment of it was fun, interactive, and a great way to talk to new people.
Outside of the construction part of this trip, touring New Orleans was amazing. If you’ve never tried a beignet, I highly recommend them. The food was delicious, the streets of New Orleans were fun to walk around and buy souvenirs at, and I made friends with teens I would never have expected to be close with, but they’re people I still talk to today. The nights in our hotel were filled with fun card games, snacks, and many interesting adventures that made all of us laugh. Even outside of our hotel, we had an awesome time bowling, attending a Family Gras festival, and I even got the chance to catch up with a camp friend of mine who lives in New Orleans. My entire week on this trip was amazing. I love everything about what the trip had to offer me because I learned something every day, whether it was at the construction site, walking in the streets, or touring Tulane to see if I was interested in applying there. Not only was I experiencing something new every day, but I connected more with my Jewish identity, either by just being with other Jewish teens or by going to Shabbat services and dinners at Tulane’s Hillel. I recommend this trip to anyone out there who wants to do something great for a community, and “repair the world” one house at a time. Both building the house and not, it is a great way to build relationships while also knowing that you are a part of something that changes someone’s life, and that is the kind of feeling I walked away with after this trip.