As a result, they established a club at UNC benefiting the nonprofit in fall 2017 as first-years by writing a constitution and bylaws, and finding their faculty sponsor, chemistry professor Brian Hogan. Due to many administrative duties in their first year, they began recruiting at this year's FallFest.
While the club’s central goal is to take annual trips to Guatemala to build homes, it also wants members to gain a deeper understanding of Guatemalan tradition and further develop their cultural competence through enrichment activities.
These enrichment activities include eating native Guatemalan food and hosting supplemental lectures for students to learn about Guatemalan culture.
This is the group’s first trip to Antigua, Guatemala, so the number of people going has been kept small. In their nine-day trip from March 9-17, they plan to build two homes in indigenous communities.
Working alongside the Guatemalan families who will live in the homes, groups of four to five volunteers and two professional workers will replace a cornstalk shack with a 13-by-19-block home that is sturdy and affordable to maintain.
“It’s the whole process from taking down their old home to building their new home with a roof, a locking door, a window, a floor. It’s a big change, and we paint it with them,” Kim said.
Once the construction is complete, a key ceremony is held in which the families are given the key to their new homes, an emotional and fulfilling moment for all involved.
“We all are all able to work together on a project and communicate and have fun — I think that was the most important part — the people,” Kim said.
Billman and Kim have been eager to return to Guatemala since their last trip. Amelia Rustin, a junior majoring in economics and global studies, will join them on the trip.
“It’s going to a different country and experiencing something with a group of college students, so that’s fun in itself, and I’ve always found service to be fun given how fortunate I am,” Rustin said.
While the majority of their trip will be devoted to service, they will have a few days to explore the country and its culture as well.
“I learned the most through being in Guatemala and experientially learning through talking with people, so I feel like I want people to take away experiences from this organization and then go forward and be more empathetic to other people and understand that everyone has different life experiences, and take away some knowledge about Guatemalan language, culture and tradition,” Billman said.