by Elenore Wang ’18
When I was woken up by the alarm at 8:30 in the morning, I felt exhausted from last night’s work. It was the aroma of pancakes that gave me strength to roll out of bed. Valerie had made us delicious chocolate chip pancakes for our last morning in Tutwiler. Tomorrow we will be moving to our next work site at Clarksdale. This means today is a day of cleaning up, saying goodbyes and leaving a memento.
We were informed by JD that we should design our memento and he would help us cut it out. After a discussion, we decided to use cut dry wall into the shape of the letters “GS” and write our names on it, then cut out a separate rectangular board to hang origamis with strings. The origamis would be vessels of our memories. Together, we made a list of inside jokes and significant moments we want to write on the origamis. Some of the items on the list include “lost car keys”, “Beau’s dry skin” and “sports with the neighborhood kids”. JD did an impressive job of cutting out the letters precisely. In addition, Jacob decided to step up our game and hang the origamis in a way that from one angle you would see them forming the shape of “GS”, from another angle you would see the shape of “2018”.
We finished the memento in the morning. After lunch, we went into the cleaning up phase for our work sites. In the midst of picking up trash from the floor, I stood up and took a look at the interior of the house. It had never occurred to me how much the house had changed due to our work until that moment. I was very proud of the instillation I did on the ceiling, but I was prouder of the hard work that we put in as a group. I wish we had more time at Tutwiler to actually finish the houses. It was a hard goodbye!
Our evening was spent in the community center with Lorenzo and Tony. The community center was huge and equipped with basketball, volleyball, hula-hoops and jump ropes. While Max, Brendan, Lorenzo and Tony engaged in a competitive basketball game, our less athletic folks played our own game with jump ropes. We revisited some kindergarten games such as Octopus. I am perhaps the least athletic person you’ll ever know, but I enjoyed the games surprisingly much.
I noticed that Julia and Ben had left the gym early, but I did not overthink it, so the birthday party really took me by surprise. When I stepped into the dorm, the first thing I saw were streamers, a birthday cake with candles in the shape of “16” and a sign that said “Happy Birthday Yueyao!” I was so confused because neither was it my birthday nor was 16! Nevertheless, I thanked Ben and Julia. Turns out that Ben was inspired by the birthday supplies at Dollar General and just wanted to throw a birthday party. Somehow this impulsive idea was not only carried out, but also successfully hidden from me for days. I couldn’t believe that Ben and Julia baked a cake without me noticing. They even brought me a tiara which made me feel really special. We played music and laughed. It was perhaps the best night we had.
We are leaving very early the next morning for Memphis. I would say that the birthday party drew a nice conclusion for our staying at Tutwiler. We will definitely miss JD and Lorenzo, but I’m glad we are able to have made some changes to the neighborhood here.