Colombia House Building #5: Group Bonding

Emily ’25 and Riley ’26, reflect on the strong bonds the group has made at the worksite and with each other. 

When approached with the daunting task of building a house in only a day as opposed to the two day building schedule we planned for, the group rose to the occasion and worked as a unit to complete this project which will leave a lasting impact on the lives of Nancy and her family. The previous day’s work was focused on building and painting a home for the family of Leidy. This work was focused on learning the foundational skills of housebuilding which smoothly transitioned into the one day project we were tasked with.

At the first worksite, it appeared that the adults who supervised this trip took on leadership roles and organized the efforts of the group. Today, however, the students assumed shared leadership over the project. As the day opened, we started by taking the plates we would use to build and transport them to the worksite. These plates ranged from 40 lbs. to 170 lbs. and had varying sizes and shapes, requiring collaboration among the group to make sure they traveled safely, avoiding fractures which could compromise the integrity of the structure. Then, we began assembling the primary corner of the square home that would within eight hours have a roof and functioning doors.

As the day progressed, it was obvious that the group was bonding tremendously and took strong interest in one fellow worker in particular, Jacho. Jacho was a man who had been working in construction for 35 years and had evidently mastered the craft. His kindness and patience was commensurate with his knowledge and humility. This was a man who made everyone feel included, made an effort to take down language barriers, and delighted in the simple pleasures that the day entailed. As we worked with Jacho the past three days, we found our relationships with him growing stronger with each encounter. His confidence was admirable, while some may have had doubts about the stability of the structure prior to completion considering the violent gusts of wind, he demonstrated this confidence with his many bold moves. Among his boldest were his savvy ways of moving around, whether atop a barrel which he would waddle around the house or him swinging from the wooden beams supporting the structure.

It is safe to say that Jacho will be missed as we wrap up our time in Colombia, shown by the sadness among the group as we embraced him for the final time in the van today. These past few days, our group has grown much closer and bonded over countless moments such as singing in the car or dancing behind the worksite. Without the crucial relationships like the ones within the student group or those with Jacho, the completion and success of this project with such a short timeframe would’ve been chimerical.