It was 3:30 in the afternoon here in Poland – time to set up for the party.
As America celebrated July 4th, those of who traveled to Poland for the Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip were wrapping up a productive day.
The back of the home we’re helping build was now completely covered in green paint – an interesting shade that resembles pistachio. After days of work, the jigsaw puzzle of brick pavers was just about finished. And a decorative layer of mosaic plaster had been applied around the foundation.
But the day’s most important work, it seemed, was unfolding just down a narrow dirt path, beyond the pigs and cattle, next to some old farming equipment.
There were chairs to set up. A campfire to start. Sticks to whittle.
Here, out in these wheat fields, two cultures would come together for a picnic.
We cooked kielbasa and roasted marshmallows. We laughed and joked. We took photos and reflected on our time together.
Moments such as these, Daniel Jahn explained to me, make these Global Village trips so worthwhile.
Daniel, a senior financial analyst with General Motors in Detroit, should know. This, after all, is his fifth Global Village trip in four years. He travels with his sister, Margaret, and her husband, Jake, both of whom are in Poland with us this week.
“This is perfect,” Daniel said. “Instead of just seeing the sites, you’re also immersing yourself in different cultures. How often do you get to work side-by-side with someone from a different country?”
And so it went during this July 4th cookout.
There were no fireworks or parades. No trips to the lake. No holiday concerts.
But everyone agreed it was an Independence Day we’ll never forget.
Mark A. Waligore is the president of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity/DeKalb. This is his first Global Village trip, and he’ll be writing about his experiences all week long.