Today was out first day of service. We woke up, looked out the window to see large white flakes. We travelled 600 miles south only to enounter freezing temperatures and snow! Our service got off on the wrong foot, as the carpenter attempted to use Kofi’s hammer to demonstate our first task, but as he swung the hammer the head went flying. Everyone laughed as the carpenters noticed a smiley face on the now useless hammer head. Throughout the day, we nailed what they told us were walls togeather, although it was tough to visualize how it would fit togeather. We are supposed to put them up tomorrow. We put the frame together for two walls of the house.
After the service, we returned to the cabin and cooked dinner. After we ate, We watched a documentary about a coal strike in the 1980s and the impact of coal on the population. Overall, it was an awesome second day in Hazard and i can’t wait to continue working on the house tomorrow.

Leaving tomorrow

I can’t believe we are finally leaving tomorrow! I have been planning this trip since the summer and I’m really excited for everything to come together. The 11 hour drive is going to be rough but our group is REALLY talkative and we get along really well. On my trip last year, very few of us knew each other before the trip, this group has a very different feel. I ended up loving my group last year and I hope my experience this year ends up the same. We are going to Hazard, a coal town in Eastern Kentucky to build/repair houses. I am hopeful that we will have a chance to meet the homeowners and interact with them. For me, there is nothing that helps me understand what and why I am doing more then talking to the local people. I’ve been waiting for this week for a long time and I can’t wait for it to begin!

Tennessee/ North Carolina

It has been a couple of weeks since we returned from our week in Tennessee, but feels like I only left yesterday. I still miss working on the deck, getting lost in the woods and swimming in the freezing lakes. The only thing element of the trip that I found disappointing was losing the fish game. Ed and Arleen Decker were fantastic hosts and Carla was a great cook. I especially appreciated their explanations of how the service projects that we took part in actually aided  the community. Picking up garbage in the forest is a lot less terrible if you know that there are thousands of people coming to the campground the next weekend for the start of fishing season and the park rangers will never be able to get the site cleaned up in time. I though that it was interesting to learn about Cherokee culture. They have a dry community and the two Cherokee that I talked to wanted to keep it that way; however, one of them seemed resigned that a proposed law for a wet county would pass, while the other one was confident that it would be defeated. Shorty believed that a dry county was necessary and that Cherokee were genetically predisposed to having alcohol problems, but he believed the law would pass easily. I’m not exactly sure what this difference in opinion with regards to the fate of the law says about Cherokee politics. Both people (Shorty and the Liberian at the youth center) seemed to be heavily involved in the Cherokee community and they were both very conscious of the historical identity of the Cherokee. From listening to both of them the proposed law seems like it is dividing the community. It is unfortunate that I was not able to talk to anyone in favor of the law, as I would have liked to hear their opinions as well as Shorty’s and the Liberians.

I had an amazing time on this trip and I would like to thank everyone on team Tennessee for a great time and especially Jocelyn for all of the work that she put in, to both prepare us beforehand and to make sure we had a successful trip.

I am very excited to head out on my first ASB trip to Tennessee next week.  This should be a wonderful opportunity to learn about Cherokee culture, while at the same time providing the chance to work with a group of people whom I hardly know. I have never been on an ASB trip before, so I have no idea what to expect, but i am always ready for whatever lies ahead. Over the winter break, I took an interm class in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar, and while this trip will not be as far from home as East Africa, i am expecting the cultural differences to be on a similar scale. I’m not exactly sure why this is, it could be the language, or possibly just the fact that the Cherokee are a Native American tribe. I am especially excited for the night that we are going to spend in a church, sleeping in a pew. It feels like a very long time has passed since our first meeting, back in October and I can’t believe that it is finally time to head to Tennessee.