This spring, the college’s Gracenotes Volunteer Committee sponsored its second annual trip to New Mexico. A group of nine staff and faculty members traveled to Santa Fe to work with Habitat for Humanity. Here, one of the trip participants, Min Lee, reflects on the experience.

By Min Lee

Before embarking on this Gracenotes trip, I felt relatively prepared for the set of experiences I had signed up for. I had emotionally prepared myself for some long soul-sucking hours at the airport, some hard physical work in the intense Santa Fe sun, and some amount of getting to know my fellow colleagues from other parts of Berklee and Boston Conservatory’s universe. All in all, those expectations accurately carried through the trip.

Min Lee & the Gracenotes 2018 groupHowever, the week ended up full of experiences that took me completely by surprise. I hadn’t expected to laugh and bond so much with the Habitat for Humanity and Americorps workers as we learned how to lay down an adobe brick wall with wheelbarrows full of mud. I hadn’t expected to personally meet the people who were going to be living in the homes that we were working on, build alongside them, and tearfully listen to the struggles that had brought them there. I hadn’t expected the hours at the construction site to fly by so swiftly, and and I hadn’t expected to find myself wishing there was just one more day of hard labor at the end of it all.

In particular, it was shocking to me just how easily our volunteer group was able to bond in the week that ended up feeling much too short for all of our experiences together. I hadn’t expected the sheer number of inside jokes that would emerge in what became our small family, such as Robin’s dad jokes, Rene’s daily changing nicknames, and Gracie the teddy bear’s bizarre chain-smoker voice. We went from struggling to remember each other’s names to bursting out in uproarious laughter together over dinner and trading emotional goodbye hugs at the airport. We came from such a large variety of age groups, backgrounds, and workplace areas, and yet we were all able to work and interact seamlessly as a team as if we had been doing so for years.

Min Lee & Rachel TaravellaIt made me realize that I have been working at Berklee for about a year, but I’ve never had an extended conversation with any professor before – and I work at a school, for god’s sake! There were people on the team who worked in the same building as me, just a couple of floors down, and yet I had never seen their faces before our initial preparation meetings. I learned through honest and real conversations that there was so much more that goes on behind the scenes to make the school function than I could have ever imagined. Berklee and the Boston Conservatory is such a large ecosystem of charming and creative souls who all just want the best for the students, and it can be so easy to forget that in the daily machinations of the workplace.

So yes, I did travel, I did build, I did bond. I did all of the things that I had expected out of the trip. However, the bright energy of the Santa Fe sun and the personalities of my teammates helped light a spark in my spirit that I hadn’t realized that I sorely needed. It’s amazing to remember just how easily something as simple as a common cause can connect us.

Min LeeMin Lee is a graphic designer for Berklee’s Enrollment Marketing Team who was raised in the cornfield-infested suburbs of Philadelphia. Aside from design, Min enjoys weightlifting, baking, meeting other people’s dogs, and trying new foods in excessive portions.