Hello everyone! I’m Arianna Smith, a sophomore chemical engineering student at WPI. Going on my first ever build trip with Habitat for Humanity, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the New Orleans area and the damage that remained from hurricane Katrina, in terms of the conditions or stages of the houses that we would be working on, or in terms of what we would actually be working on or constructing in the houses. Driving back from the airport on our first day there, I realized that there were still many destroyed houses lingering in the outskirts of New Orleans from Katrina ten years later. I was very shocked to see that they still hadn’t been torn down. When we went into the city on our second day there, I talked to a lot of locals and told them I was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity from Massachusetts. Every single person that I talked to was so extremely thankful and grateful. I have never felt like I was in such a tight-knit community as I had that day in New Orleans. you could see how much our gestures truly meant to them. When it was actually time for us to go to the build site, I say multiple different houses in all different stages of construction. My little knowledge of construction and ability to accurately complete the tasks improved drastically over the course of our time there. I learned so much from not only the Habitat for Humanity construction team, but mostly from my peers. I was proud of myself for the knowledge, experience, and skills that I gained. I was also prideful in myself for the assistance that my peers and I provided for a community. It was great knowing that we weren’t giving a hand out, but a hand up to families and the community as a whole. The entire experience was incredible, from the day we spent being tourists in the city, to the construction of homes, and from travelling with people I barely know, to creating a bond I never thought was possible to form in a week. My first build trip was so unforgettable, I can’t wait for the next one!