Bright and early, the ninth grade class, accompanied by Mrs. Bauer, Mrs. Torres, and Mr. Morris, departed from Logan Airport. We had a quick flight, only about an hour to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where we roamed a little and collected a bit of breakfast for those who were hungry, then departed for Memphis. Our second flight was almost three hours. Safely in Memphis, Patrick from Partners in Development picked us up. We saw the Mississippi River and toured a bit of Memphis. From there we drove to Central BBQ for a spectacular lunch. Everyone left stuffed on ribs or pulled pork that was cooked to perfection. Walking a block away, we waited outside of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel until it opened at one o'clock. The National Civil Rights Museum is mostly all about slavery and the civil rights movement, but one specific part is dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. The museum is located at the Lorraine Motel, where King was shot. After an information-packed self-guided tour taking up almost four hours, the drive to Glendora began. There was one striking difference to driving at night in Glendora, Mississippi, and in Wenham, Massachusetts, and it was not the flat landscape or the lack of buildings. The difference that I noticed first was the lack of lights. All I could see were the streetlights that seemed to be placed near small groups of houses sparsely placed along the road. Once we reached our B&B we were greeted by a few smiling faces. Our rooms exceeded our expectations. After a dinner of salad and casserole, we had a quick informational meeting about what to expect tomorrow. All of us were ready to crash and were excited for the tasks tomorrow may hold.
Wednesday was a great day. We could see more clearly the progress of the arduous yet satisfying workdays. I took a short morning walk on the barren, muddy road. I shivered, my skin penetrated by the nippy air. We worked nonstop all morning. The side panels are going up one by one, and the construction resembles a house more and more. This gives us great satisfaction. After lunch it was straight back to work. Zach and Camden continued to put up strapping for the ceilings, and Johan and I worked on our hammering skills with Mrs. Torres and Mr. Morris. The girls went with Nichelle and Mrs. Bauer to help organize the Thrift Store that PID is setting up. After completing one side of the house, the squad quickly moved to the other side. We finished the day after about ¾ of the second side was done. The long day left us with almost no energy to run off, but we rallied and went to the playground for some touch football and piggy back rides. The day ended with another tremendous meal from Lady, shepherd’s pie, salad, and apple pie with ice cream. Tomorrow we hope to start putting up drywall and make even more progress on Lady’s house. Day 5: Glendora - by Zach Rogers
At the start of the day, the strapping and the siding were somewhere between 50 and 75% complete. But admiring our work was not going to get the job done. Siding was harder than the strapping because of the heat that had to be dealt with outside. With the strapping, there was no need to worry about heat. The morning went by slowly and spirits among the students dulled. But once lunch came along, the happy vibe was back. After lunch everyone was energized and ready to get back to work, but Mr. Morris threw us a curveball. Instead of going directly back to the house to continue working, we took a visit to the Emmett Till Museum, which is located in Glendora. I had very little knowledge of the murder mystery, only an overview of what happened. As I was walking through the exhibits, it saddened me to learn more about how the Civil Rights movement was such a sweet and sour process. What surprised me the most was the clay model of Emmett Till’s body. How could someone go through such pain? I thought to myself. His mother insisted that the casket was open at the funeral so that everyone was confronted by the horrible reality. After that the afternoon flew by. We had to pull off several sheets of siding because they were slightly slanted, but we persevered, and then the end of the workday came along. I was happy I could rest for a few minutes then go and play with the kids in the town. Tonight I played some intense basketball with some of the older kids. I had always thought that if I could do it in NBA 2K then I could do it in real life. I had to find out the hard way that this wasn’t true. Still it was a lot of fun, and overall another good day.
Day 6: Glendora - by Camden Greenwood
I consider our group of 7 students to be a form of the Breakfast Club. This meaning, we all come together like a jigsaw puzzle to complete each other. Although our group has had multiple fights and quarrels, we are a kind of family.
We started off our day with breakfast, all of us eating the delicious food that Lady, the chef, made us, and John eating popcorn. After filling our stomachs, we tried to fit in some baseball and football before getting to the rigorous task of siding and strapping. John and I were on strapping duty, and we bickered with one and other, but by the end of the day we had finished strapping the entire ceiling of the house, which is a thing to be proud of. While John and I worked inside of the house, everyone else was outside working on the siding and soffits, and they did a great job. By the end of day 6, the 9th grade family had completed insulation, windows, doors, strapping, and 80% of the siding. We are tired, almost always hungry, and hard working, but we are always having fun, and we are experiencing something truly incredible.
Day 7: Glendora - by Ellie Greer
Today is Saturday, November 21st. It feels like we’ve been here in Glendora longer than six days. We slept in this morning, and it was much appreciated. We got to work at around 10:00 am. One group finished up siding, while I started putting dry wall on the ceiling with Patrick, Robert, Quan, Mrs. Bauer, Zach, and Mike. We managed to get most of the ceiling up in one of the rooms. Robert coached us and gave us instructions because he is the master of all things house building. With him checking our steps and catching our errors, work was relatively smooth. Before I knew it the time was 1:00 pm, and we stopped for a quick lunch. Lady’s son Quan joined us for much of today; after lunch we all watched an episode of “Criminal Minds” on Catrina’s phone upstairs. More than anything, how easily Quan fit into our group made it obvious that we are not so different. For much of the week we’ve had interaction with older people in Glendora, like Lady and Robert, as well as with younger kids like Jaquiem, Paisley, and Elmo. But Quan was the first kid our age that we’d had much interaction with. After the disturbing “Criminal Minds” episode was done, Mr. Morris had us all take a walk down to the Emmett Till Park by the bayou. It wasn’t the park that we normally went to, and there were not many kids aside from the ones who had come with us. It was fun, even if it was very cold outside. I honestly forgot we weren’t in Massachusetts, partially because of the cold, but mainly because I didn’t feel so much like a stranger. It’s still a little hard to understand the Glendora accent, but fortunately people seem to understand that and don’t get upset. In some ways I’m glad to be going home, but in others I kind of wish I could stay longer.