Spanish students serve with Habitat

Posted on: Jun 14, 2022

Setting linguistics aside for a day focused on service to others, about 20 Delano High School students volunteered with Habitat for Humanity earlier this spring.

The group of College in the Schools Spanish students was led by teacher John Fitzer, who first brought his students to Habitat job sites about four years ago.

“In my CIS class, there is a human rights unit,” Fitzer explained. “Within the human rights unit, there are in-depth discussions about how we can provide human rights to people that live in our own country and community. One of the human rights that we discuss has to do with adequate housing. The biggest focus in the book centers around Habitat for Humanity. The University of Minnesota has encouraged teachers to provide a service learning opportunity for students in our classes. I connected with Habitat for Humanity and the rest is history!”

A new tradition for the class was born. Volunteer opportunities were interrupted by COVID in 2020-21, but students thoroughly enjoyed this year’s return to Habitat service.

“It’s a really good cause,” said senior Mackinzie Deters. “You feel good after doing it, knowing that you’re making a difference for people who need it.”

Senior Peder Bjorklund said he was initially concerned that he wouldn’t have much to offer in a construction setting, but he encouraged anyone else with similar reservations not to hesitate to serve.

“I was kind of worried, because I have very minimal hands-on building experience, that I would be pretty useless,” he said. “But the site directors were very nice and encouraging and good at teaching you how to do things. So you shouldn’t be discouraged just because you don’t have experience.”

The students split into four groups that worked at different home construction sites in Minneapolis and Chaska.

“There were lots of things to do within each house,” said senior Elizabeth Hajas. “Our supervisor was asking us, ‘What do you want to do?’ So they gave us some options of things to do within our comfort zone. Demolishing and rebuilding was kind of outside of our comfort zone, but it was a lot of fun to do.”

Hajas had the opportunity to tear out an existing wall and rebuild it using power drills and saws that she didn’t have previous experience with.

“I did some demo and just learned some basic building skills,” she said.

Bjorklund also gained some practical skills on the job site.

“I was putting up siding, so it was cool to learn how to do that and use the nail gun, which was fun,” he said.

Dieters and her group did a lot of painting and other odd jobs at a house that was close to completion.

“It was fun, just getting to do stuff you don’t usually get to do,” she said. “Another cool thing about it was that every day you go to a Habitat house it’s something different. They always say that if you get sick of doing something, just tell them and they’ll find something else for you to do. There are so many areas of things you can do to learn new skills.”

Fitzer said the service learning day has been a hit since the tradition began.

“Students are always excited about this opportunity,” he said, adding that the majority of those in his class usually participate. “Students are always very happy to have participated in the build, and talk about how easy it was to do something nice for someone else, especially something on the scale of a home for a family.”

Post Categories: High School