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Final Reflections from our amazing trip!

Hello Christina, Judy, Perry, David, Marie, Mike, Michelle, Allen, Bonnie, Ken, Beth, Kay, and Rodger!

This is it… my final official blog entry to you all as your team leader for the Habitat for Humanity trip to Beius, Romania in August 2013. It’s hard to believe that our week is actually over. Two weeks ago from today, I arrived in Budapest with a ton of expectations - will my team arrive on time and safely? (Yes) Will there be any injuries? (Minor ones, but we're all okay) Will everyone have a good time? (I think so!!!)

I hope you all have safe travels after the trip and make it to your final destination, your own home. I know Allen is traveling today and the Nebraska crew is leaving Budapest tomorrow and I hope you all have safe travels. I arrived back to Connecticut on Tuesday night and enjoyed sleeping in my own bed finally. Somehow, I got used to the small beds in Europe and barely moved on my large mattress throughout the night!

I hope you all enjoyed our experience in Oradea and Beius Romania. I cannot thank you enough for opening your hearts and sharing your sweat and passion with me during my eleventh team to Romania. I couldn’t have picked a better group to share it with! I kept thinking throughout the week, “Well something must go wrong today? It can’t go without any troubles? Why is this trip so easy this year?” And nothing did. You all brought so much energy, enthusiasm, and love to our team and our build, I can’t thank you enough! You survived the heat, you survived the shovels of concrete, you survived sleeping in four different hotels, and you all did it without complaints and with such positive energy. I hope you will continue to keep changing the world in your own special way, whether it is through building homes like you did last week or anything else you can think of! You are all amazing people and I am so fortunate that I was able to spend ten days with you all.

Here's a video slide show of our adventures in Romania:

So, now that most of you have returned to your daily life, you are missing your Habitat experience right? For the rookie Habitat folks in our group, this is a common disease we call “Habititus”. It’s okay, you can’t die from this disease, but you will probably have it for the rest of your life! Your friends and family at home might get sick of your stories, might not get your experience, but it's okay - just tell them you have Habititus!

I am sure most of you really miss playing cards until all hours in the evening (I still can't believe I left as the "Captain Idiot"!), I'm sure you miss straightening the rebar, going around on the merry-go-round at the worksite, coffee breaks with the amazing chocolate croissants and wafer cookies, you probably miss hearing the sounds of the hammers on the worksite and seeing the "Mayor of Beius" stickers all around the worksite. You might miss the triangle eggs in the morning and the lovely music at the restaurant and the tastes of palinka.

So many memories – what do you remember? Feel free to “reply all” to the email I sent to you with some of your favorites from the week. In the end, I guess you miss spending 24/7 with your new friends and you want to stay involved with Habitat, right? Well, lucky you! Some of you are already among the lucky few that are involved with Habitat on a weekly/monthly basis and this will be old news for you. But for the new folks out there - there are a ton of opportunities for you to do just that! Here are just a few to get you started… check out Habitat’s webpage at www.habitat.org for more!

Future GV Trips… You heard the folks in Beius, I will be back in 2014 and they would love to see you again! Or perhaps think about becoming a Global Village team leader (contact Joe Johnson at Habitat for Humanity International jjohnson@habitat.org to learn more and mention my name). Don’t let our trip be your Global Village experience! There are other trips on the schedule right now to Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua, Argentina, Macedonia, Fiji, Nepal… the list keeps going. www.habitat.org/gv

Get Involved with your local affiliate like the Nebraskans… To find your local affiliate, just go to http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/ and check out what's happening in your area. At many affiliates, you can become a member of the board of directors, join a committee, volunteer on a Saturday, etc etc.

Work for Habitat… there are many volunteer and staff positions available at Habitat for Humanity in the United States and throughout the world. You can volunteer for a short term or long term position (like I did after college in Americus) or apply for a paid position. Check out http://www.habitat.org/hr/ for more information!

For the future teachers and students... get involved! College kids can form a habitat chapter at their school. Even younger youth can get involved with Habitat. Join the Act! Speak! Build! Week – Act! Speak! Build! is a nationwide day of educating about poverty housing and habitat. It usually takes place in late March or early April. Check out http://www.habitat.org/youthprograms/ for more info about youth involvement with Habitat!

Support Habitat's work in Beius year-round... Donate your money to Habitat, become a HopeBuilder and send it directly to Habitat for Humanity in Beius. It's a monthly donation of any amount taking right off your credit card and send directly to Habitat Beius. Go to http://www.habitat.org/support/hopebuilders.aspx for more information. You can also check out Beius Habitat's webpage at www.habitatbeius.ro or look for them on facebook.

Become an advocate... Learn more about Habitat and its work around the world. Learn about Habitat's Disaster Response office which has helped with the Haiti Earthquake, devastating tornadoes this spring and Super-storm Sandy last fall, flash floods in the Philippines, earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia and other disasters throughout the world. (http://www.habitat.org/disaster/default.aspx). Research habitat's history and work through its website at www.habitat.org. Join Habitat as they celebrate 500,000 houses built and share your experience on their new app at http://app.habitat.org/habitatmap/.

If you have any questions about getting more involved in Habitat or anything that I mentioned above, please let me know. I can either answer your question immediately or direct you to someone at Habitat International that can help you!

Once again, thank you for joining me on this special build where we left our names, hearts, and sweat in Oradea and Beius, Romania.

Take care, keep smiling, and keep building! Until next year, I am signing off!
GV Beius Romania
August 2013

Posted by gooberkn 05:38 Archived in USA Tagged romania habitat habitat_for_humanity hfh Comments (0)

Don't Worry, Be Happy


As I am sitting in the taxi and heading to the airport, "Don't worry be happy" came on the radio. It was kind of fitting for the end of my trip. While I am sad to leave, as I am every year, I can only think of such wonderful happy memories of the past two weeks in Europe. And to be honest, I can hear Valer's voice in my head saying, "no worries Katie. It's not a problem!"

It is truly amazing that every trip I make with Global Village is unique and special and will always hold fond memories in my heart. This thing called Habitat never gets old and never goes out of style. I honestly believe that every person should experience a trip like this once in a lifetime (or more of course!). I have met some of the most amazing people on my teams throughout the years and have worked with the most kind-hearted and loving crew out there and that's my friends from Habitat Beius. I have witnessed the good in humanity and have the blisters to prove I didn't just sit on the sidelines.

As I leave this beautiful city if Budapest and miss my favorite summer home in Beius, I am reminded how lucky and fortunate that I am able to have these experiences every summer. No matter what struggles we go through in life, no matter how many curve balls we are given, we can still sit back and say "no worries Katie. It's not a problem!" We can conquer it all and help little little Seba and his sister grow up in a nice house.

Is there a lot of work out there to be done? Of course! But as Ken from Nebraska said, "if we all do a little bit, we'll get to the final finished product."

So my question for you - what little bit will you do today? This month? This year? You certainly don't have to travel to Romania in 100+ temperatures to do your little bit!

Although I highly suggest it!!

I will certainly miss this view
And these folks!

My next post will be from the USA!

Posted by gooberkn 02:56 Archived in Hungary Tagged habitat Comments (0)

So Long Summer Home


I'm back in Budapest after a long day of traveling yesterday. It was so sad to leave Beius and as we pulled out of the town in our van, I had several tears streaming down my face. When I come to Beius in the summer, I feel like I am visiting my family. It's hard to put into words the connection I have with Habitat Beius - you'll just have to come next summer and experience it yourself! It's an emotional day leaving but I know I will be back next summer. I have to come back and finish the campaign for Emil :-)

Last night we had our final farewell celebration with the team and it was amazing! We had a private 2.5 hour boat cruise and dinner with live gypsy music. We were greeted on the boat with a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of another successful build. After feasting on another incredible dinner, we sat on the deck of the boat and enjoyed the beautiful sites of the city at night.




As we were all sitting on the deck and enjoying the beautiful sites, I became lost in my own thoughts. It truly is amazing how close you can come to complete strangers after building a house with them for a week. Michelle said it best during dinner on Saturday night - I came to Romania to build a house and I left with a family. I have gained wisdom from several wise parents/grandparents, have enjoyed laughs with my crazy aunts and uncles, and have created many memories with my new cousins/sisters. In a world filled with such negativity all the time from school shootings to train crashes to everyday violence, it is nice to see the good in society. I spent a week with some everyday heroes - people who are trying to make this world a better place one shovel of concrete at a time. I feel blessed to be a part of this experience. Many folks ask me why I do Habitat every summer and my answer continues to be - Habitat is my refresher course on life - it jump starts me and reminds me about all the good in this world that is happening all around us every single day.

So this morning as I said goodbye to Beth, Perry, Christina, and Michelle, I know that I will see them someday in the future.

As for today, I am enjoying a nice relaxing day in the castle district and then I'll head down to St Stephen's Cathedral for an organ concert and then dinner with the Nebraska/ Indiana crew.

I'm off to explore! Here are some more pictures of our adventures from last night:





Posted by gooberkn 01:02 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest habitat Comments (0)

What an amazing week!!!



What an incredible week with Habitat for Humanity Beius. First, I'd like to thank all the folks, my good friends, on site who helped us all week long. So to Emil, Claudiu, Valer, Mihai, Nelu, Marcel, and Ionut:

"Multumesc pentru rabdare, bunatate si toata buna dispozitie pe care ne-ati oferit-o in aceasta saptamana!"

(Which means: "Thank you for your patience, kindness, and laughter throughout the week.")

Friday on the site of Wesley Way, where Habitat built ten houses in a week with 250+ students from Ireland, we did the finishing touches on a few of the houses. There was lots of sanding, muddying, taping, and painting done.




In the evening we took a tour of Habitat street and the office and learned a bit about the history of Habitat in Beius as they have built over 230 new homes and helped over 450 families since they started. We had a chance to see Emil's office and a few photos along the walls of the office showing the history of Habitat here.

On Saturday, we worked a half day on site and helped the affiliate clean up and deconstruct the site from the Wesley Big Build. In the afternoon we had a tour of the bear caves, an antique museum, and an old church built in the 1700s.

We were asked to share a few of our thoughts about the week on site. Here are the videos:
Kay from Nebraska:

Katie from Connecticut:

Allen from Indiana:

Michelle from California:

And finally I will leave you with a few words from my team members as we get ready to pack our bags and head back to Budapest:

Ken from Nebraska: the work that we do seems so trivial until you see and feel the big picture. If everyone does a little bit we get this final finished product with a new home and a marvelous wonderful thing has happened. I feel blessed to be a part of it.

Perry from California:
It was a very good experience and it was mostly what I anticipated. Going from the foundation and then doing the final touches of a house in Beius was a cool experience. I love coming to Romania. It's been 20 years since I've been here. And I love the people so much.

Marie from Massachusetts: every build becomes a favorite in its unique way. The whole team was great and it worked like a well oiled machine and I'm very happy to be able to experience this with my own family.

So long to my favorite summer home and I will see you next year!

Posted by gooberkn 09:01 Archived in Romania Tagged romania habitat beius Comments (0)

The Foundation is Done and We're heading to Beius!


So much to write about!!!

We started work on Wednesday morning a bit earlier so that we could end earlier and get out of the hot sun. And we went straight to work on prepping the two foundations. Within minutes of arrival at the site, the cement mixers were going and I was spreading out the huge rock pile on one of the foundations.

The team worked extremely hard and by noon you could see a huge difference. Our main foundation already had the first few rows of cement - about four inches deep carried up a ramp made by Valer's "girls" (Christina, Michelle and Beth).

We ended around 1 and headed back to the Noble House for lunch. That afternoon, Marie, Michelle, Christina and I went to one of the local swimming pools while the rest of the team enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the Noble House.

We ordered in pizza for dinner and then Emil and Nelu took us on a tour of the farm. We got to pet adorable calfs and even milk a cow!!! Christina and Michelle were in heaven!!



On Thursday, we woke up early again and did our morning schedule. Our job - finish the foundation on the first site. It was an amazing production line of coordinated efforts by my entire team and of course our amazing teachers on site.





And finally the Oradea site was done which means we could head to Beius in the afternoon!!! But first we said goodbye to our friends on site, left our mark on the picnic table that we built, and had a surprise birthday party for Seba, one of the homeowner's children.





And then we hit the road for my summer home Beius!!!! We had about an hour drive through the beautiful countryside of Romania and were welcomed to Beius with a traditional evening filled with singing, dancing, and my favorite meal of the week including the best soup in the world - stuffed pepper soup. What an amazing day!!!

Christina from California had this to say about her first impressions of Beius:
"My first impressions of Beius is that it is charming. You get a real feel of Romania. The buildings are beautiful and I love being surrounded by the forests."

Here are some more pictures of my amazing team and our adventures in Romania:

Ken and his handcrafted mobile on site:

Valer and Katie - just like brother and sister:

Lots of red Nebraska shirts:

Posted by gooberkn 06:20 Archived in Romania Tagged habitat beius Comments (0)