At Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

From the moment my colleague who traveled with Gracenotes to New Orleans told me ‘if you have the chance, GO’, I knew I wanted to take part in the 2017 Berklee Gracenotes Sponsorship trip. As the sole Boston Conservatory at Berklee member, I still was unfamiliar with Berklee staff and faculty outside my own department, and to work closely with new faces in a way and in a place far removed from our usual interactions and settings was definitely appealing.

I came to this trip with an open mind; like Gracenotes itself, this was my first venture to Santa Fe and New Mexico. This would also be my first foray into construction and building a house; before this opportunity my closest related experience was limited to minor home improvement projects like spackling a wall (and for anything else more involved, calling maintenance). Back in my normal routine now, it still feels strange to say I spent the past week putting up siding on one house and installing drywall on another; as if construction is something I regularly do in my spare time.

Through the Gracenotes Sponsorship, I truly got a sense of the work that’s entailed and the dedication and precision that’s required in constructing a house. We worked with a great and incredibly skillful team of Habitat for Humanity and Americorps members and to my surprise, the future homeowners themselves. To work alongside two amazing ladies, Carolina and Mary Anne and see how excited they were at the prospect of their new lives was inspiring. 2017 has brought with it a constant inundation of distressful news, and yet meeting these two women who are so hopeful for their futures was such a boost and (cliché as it may sound), reaffirms why I chose to embark on this experience in the first place.

Matthias, me, and Carolina

Alissa Minot is the Operations Manager for Institutional Advancement at Boston Conservatory at Berklee.