Part 1- ceremony

Yesterday was the day that truly reminded us why we’re here. Why we decided months ago that this is how we wanted to spend our spring break and why we spent months raising money. It was the day that we finally gave the family their new home, a home that they would be able to not only survive in, but live in. 

After our typical morning start the day we piled in the vans one last time to go to the build site. Conversation included typical witty morning commentary along with intensive practicing for the house dedication ceremony (fostered by none other that Mr. Whyte himself). 

When we got to the build site it was just like every other day; we were able to look back at our progress from the day before and then be greeted by the kind grandmother we were building the house for. 

The morning progressed just as it had the four days prior: we kept on building. After an hour and a half of mixing more cement and carrying more bricks, we put down our gloves to begin the house dedication ceremony. 

It began with statements from the family which we had built for. The gandmother shared her sincere gratitude and told us how it would have been hard for her to save up the money for a house on her own due to her age and a medical condition which made working difficult. Hearing that made me think back to the multiple occasions when she was there alongside us passing the heavy buckets of cement, it made me realize how much she wanted and needed this house. The grandfather expressed similar statements of thanks, and later on I could see tears welling up in his eyes as he was officially welcomed into his new home. It was then our turn to make statements to the family, in which Alex, Jackson, Johnathan, and Ms. Rhodes spoke on behalf of the entire team by expressing our gratitude and appreciation for being able to build this family a new home. 

We then proceeded to the front of the house where we formed a circle, arms around each other. It was now our turn to show the family as a group how much we truly appreciate and care about the work we just did, and we had decided the previous night to sing an excerpt from “Home” by Phillip Phillips (which I’m listening to right now as Andrew has been singing the same line periodically throughout this van ride). We then passed around the key to the home, in which everyone hands it off and it ends in the hands of the homeowner. The family then proceeded to the front door and cut the ribbon welcoming them home (beautifully put together by none other than Parn and Johnathan) and we all followed inside to sign our names on the wall. 

After a twenty minute extension on Parn’s originally allotted five minute period for pictures we eventually trickled into lunch. Afterwards we head to the vans to head back to the hotel, but made sure to look back on the house we built and our job complete. 

MS China – Day 10

Chengdu • Morning • By Jake

We woke up yesterday morning to the sound of rain drops gently hitting the hotel windows. Breakfast was well prepared with a surplus of flavor in each bite.

The expedition then walked to a variety of shops, each containing similar items of overpriced golden Buddhas. After 30 minutes of free-time, we travelled to a gorgeous street market. The market contained every souvenir from A-Z. As most of the group rushed to Starbucks, some members split off to find long-lasting memories, captured in souvenirs. While we walked around the city-market, there were shops containing things like dream-catchers, spices, shadow puppets, water bottles, necklaces, and many more.

After we left the market, we traveled by subway to the infamous People’s Place Park. This park is popular because it is used for the Marriage Garden. This is when adults arrange an advertisement for their children to get married, based off things like height, weight, occupation, and personal traits.

We gathered into our four person groups and played Mahjong. Mahjong is a game like Rumicube where each person must collect and discard tokens until you have 4, three token matches, and 1, two token match. Mahjong is the most incredible game, and the local Chengdu citizens came to help us beginners. After many games of Mahjong, and an experience of a lifetime, it was time to head to our food-tour!

Chengdu • Afternoon • By Megan

The afternoon started off with heated games of mahjong at the local tea house in People’s Park. Mahjong is a Chinese tile game where you need a “Mahjong” which is when you have four sets of three like tiles and one pair of two like tiles to win. We were all served jasmine tea in a traditional Chengdu tea cup.

After a few games we split into groups and began the food tour. My group’s first stop was a small restaurant with about four tables. Here we ate a few variations of beef all served in a very delicious broth. We started with cow heart and this was by far the groups favorite. Our second dish was plain beef. The third dish was cow stomach which was very chewy and had a interesting aroma. The fourth and final dish was cow penis. I think that is enough said.

From there we moved to the street market. At the street market we tasted Chengdu pepper corn, sausage, pickles, and the most interesting rabbit head. We had to first crack the rabbit’s jaw, and then from there we ate the cheek and brain meat. Our next stop was a street vender who sold pancake like crepes filled with different toppings, some sweet and some savory. After that our last stop was a traditional dumpling restaurant. Here we ate spicy and regular pork dumplings. From there we went to our final meal of the day; hot pot. On the middle of the table there was a giant bowl of boiling chilly water, and a bowl of boiling broth. We then added meat balls, pork, bean spouts, tofu, goose lung, and rabbit kidney to the boiling pots. After the meat and greens were cooked we dunked them into sesame oil to cool them off (the spice and the temperature). After dinner we walked back to the hotel, and completed reflections.

Day 8

Today the group woke up in the hostel in Interlaken. We headed down to breakfast hungry and ready for the busy day ahead of us. After breakfast, we all split up and headed into town to do some last minute shopping and touring. After a chill morning we said our last goodbyes at the hostel and headed for the train station. We were on our way to Zermatt to enjoy a night in an igloo. The train ride had beautiful views and felt long because we were so excited for the fun night. Once we reached Zermatt, we all split up and walked around the town just to get the feel for things. The town was a typical ski town with cute shops and restaurants. Suddenly it was time to go up the mountain to meet the igloo group. Once we reached the top of the mountain there was a large snow storm, therefore we had to take a snowplow to the igloo. We enjoyed the views as the cold air hit our faces. We reached the igloo in delight and had a tour of the entire village. The igloo was amazing and made us even more excited for the night. Dinner was fondu in the igloo. We all sat around a table and had very broad conversations. After dinner we went out into the foggy night and snowshoed. Even though we hardly see anything through the fog, being surrounded by snow was pretty enough. After the tiring snowshoe walk, we hundled around the fire before heading to bed. After being warmed up by the fire, we headed to bed in the extravagant igloo hotel. Even though we had a little trouble falling asleep we were all went to bed happy and excited for the next day.


by Catherine Crawford

Geneva, Switzerland ICGL

Today we spent our last day exploring Geneva, Switzerland. We started of by taking a train from Zermatt to Geneva. Once we arrived we checked in to the beautiful and amazing Hotel Warwick. We then went to take a tour of the United Nations. However, we unfortunately did not make our tour time. We stayed positive and flexible and we went to see one of Geneva’s most talked about attractions the Flower Clock. It was a beautiful clock made out of colorful flowers right next to the stunning lake. Afterwards we went to the delicious pasta reasturant, Fabbrica Pasta. Enzo, the owner originally from southern Italy tought us how to hand make pasta. We then sat down and enjoyed all different types of pasta all which were splendid. We finished of the meal with outstanding apple crumble and crème brûlée!  We thoroughly enjoyed our day in Geneva.



Today the Baja group woke up really early to go see the sea lions. It was a cloudy pretty chilly day this morning unlike the other days. We put on our wetsuits and our snorkels and when we saw the sea lions we were in awe but everyone was hesitant to get in the water. Finally everyone got in the water and it was cold but the sea lions made us forget about the cold. After swimming and playing with the sea lions we got on the boat and went to an island to eat lunch. The island was so cool and beautiful and the lunch was great. We were in or around the water basically the whole day and it was such an awesome experience and we all had so much fun.


– Matthew Aronson