by Kerry Chen ’19
As the first day of work at Clarksdale, we woke up to a mild weather and a decent breakfast. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and were ready to accept a new set of assignment. We waited until the person in charge, Ben, arrived and filled us in with all the essential information we need to keep in mind. His humor, gratefulness, and excitement accompanied us all the way into the worksite.
The morning passed by as Ben explained what we needed to do for the rest of the week, which is much different and fascinating to me: setting down the tiles, installing the doors, and—this is no longer a surprise—painting. Ben spent some time teaching us how to cut and align the tiles, since none of us had this kind of experience; he then showed us how to put a whole set of door in place with great patience. Tired of a week of brushing the walls and longing for something I haven’t done before, I chose to put on door locks. The job turned out to be much more interesting than I had expected, for it added a new perspective to my knowledge. I never knew how pieces of the door are put together and function the way they do, and I never imagined I would be putting together something we see every day. What I did today, however, provided me a chance to get out of my comfort zone—lying in bed and watching Netflix with AC on—and take part in the construction of the asset that would make such activity possible. I took delight in screwing the locks in and hammering the door to the frame, not only because I have never done it before, but also for the fact that I am doing something beneficial for the community.
We had a conversation regarding some changes in schedule over lunchtime, which we resolved later tonight. The workload was the same in the afternoon, and we painted—there’s always more painting—the doors as we finished stabilizing them. In spite of the exhaustion, playing with Ace—the most adorable puppy I’ve ever seen in the neighborhood—was the highlight of the day. As Kaitlyn and I were taking a break on the porch, a small, brown, and fluffy ball rolled under my legs; the scare turned into surprise as I discovered that it was Ace seeking a hug. Though he ran away after I held him on my shoulder, he swept away much of the fatigue and gave me the energy to keep working.
Since the weather became so nice in the afternoon, we decided to take a walk around Clarksdale. I took out my jean shorts and sunglasses, which had been lying on the bottom of my suitcase from the day I got to Mississippi, and was glad to have the chance to put them on. After passing two cafes that were closed, we finally got to Yazoo, a decent café with wifi and nice decoration. We chilled for a while and I got vanilla frozen yogurt, with strawberries on—it was only me trying to be healthy. I really enjoyed the weather and the view around the neighborhood, as well as how we took the chance to come out and get some fresh air. The area of Clarksdale could be described as peaceful and comfortable, where everyone was so nice and friendly. We actually had a lot of fun hanging out with the local kids; playing games with them reminded me of childhood flashbacks, a feeling I seldom have time to relive and cherish.