In three days I’ll board a red eye out of Newark, NJ for Poland. A team of us will rendezvous at the Krakow airport prepped to work for a week on a Habitat for Humanity house in Giliwice. Six will travel alone, four with a friend and there are two retired couples, one with their mid-career daughter.
Most don’t have much construction experience, we’ll do grunt work under excellent guidance of a local supervisor. We’ll eat breakfast at 7 AM, take a van to the work site at 8 AM, work all day and come back to the hotel at 4:30 to clean up and maybe have a soothing beverage before dinner. We’ll do this for five days and then tour Auschwitz as a cross-cultural activity. A recent GV’er summed it up on her last day, “I’m tired, but oh, so inspired.”
This is how some of us do vacations. We’ve learned there’s something powerful in doing manual labor on a project. Sometimes we have to stop our task to help someone else for a few minutes. Sometimes we remind each other to take a break or drink some water. Sometimes the homeowner brings their three year old child around and we all just dote for awhile. Sometimes we finish a tough task and pat each other’s backs. One Portuguese homeowner treated us to cheese and her homemade wine every afternoon at 4:30, the best, lousy wine I’ve ever had.
Sharing tools, learning about the building materials and figuring out how to solve problems awakens something inside of us I’ve seen retired dads and early career daughters reconnect and create memories they’ll both cherish forever. I’ve seen grandmothers and grandsons deepen their fondness. I’ve seen corporate work teams help each other, laugh together and deepen trust in ways that will serve them well when they’re back in the office dealing with complicated issues. I’ve seen strangers become friends and stay close touch for years after their work week.
This is how some of us do vacations. Its my twenty something trip leading a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team and I can’t wait for the next one.