Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Team Réciprocité

You ask what? Or maybe where? I've been spending the last five months absent from this blog and actively involved in the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, a international competition inspired by the the U.S. Solar Decathlon that challenges collegiate teams from all over the world to design, build, and operate cost effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered houses. My university, Appalachian State University, is pairing up with Université d’Angers in France to represent Team Réciprocité. The last five months I've been involved in creating construction drawings on Revit, helping the team pick out furniture and accessories, and actually doing hands-on construction on our home, Maison Reciprocity.
Work on the construction site has taught me so much more about my field of industry as well as more about myself. For example, I started off not knowing how to use an impact drill, or do trim carpentry, or what the crap is a T25 drill bit?! I didn't know that I was so good at putting Roxul insulation into walls. Neither did I know I was capable of driving a truck into a building...
Work on the construction site has taught me how to ask: to ask for a helping hand when you can't possibly carry that huge piece of plywood up the stairs, or to ask for a hammer - or just steal it out of someone's tool belt, how to ask when you don't know how a particular tool works, or ask for a lighter to which all seven French boys reach for their pockets and ask if you smoke, or for a utility knife (sometimes called a utilitarian knife) in which the four men you ask from all produce a knife out of somewhere on their being and you end up have four knives pointed at you.

Work on the construction site has earned me the nickname of "Near-Miss" simply because I am always tripping, always bleeding, always getting a splinter, and even occasionally twisting an ankle, falling off a ladder, or bumping heads with the stairs. (But then again, what's new?!)
Work on the construction site has taught me to fend for myself. So what if I'm the smallest/shortest person around, and I'm a girl. There are slight advantages, like fitting into small quarters, getting into precarious ladder situations, and bossing the boys around getting treated like a lady. But hey, I can do the job just as well.

Work on the construction site has taught me how to get the job done! If that means unloading tools from the truck so you can start working sooner, or sweeping the floor just to stay occupied, or breaking up the conversation to get the boys back to working, or even staying until 2am in the morning... you do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Yet working on the construction site leaves you with a sense of satisfaction like nothing else. Because at the end of the day, you look back at what you've done, at how far you've come, at the experiences you've had, and the memories you've made, and its not something I would ever give up. Don't ask me how I worked at Solar Decathlon for 50 hours a week, plus went to class with a full-time 15 credit hours semester work load, and worked part time 12 hours a week. All those late nights either using a drill or catching up on homework were worth it.

P/s. Plus, I get to go to France for a month.

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