Photos by Janice Levy
Levy had mixed feelings about the students’ decision:
"I was happy that they were exhibiting social consciousness,
but I understood — having done community projects in Madagascar
— that they didn’t have a full understanding of what they were taking
on. I tried to explain some of the implications for the community,
the philosophical problems — would it be better to build a community
center or donate to the schools? — as well as the physical, logistical,
and labor problems. I was also concerned about the students’ safety.
They discussed my reservations and decided they really wanted to
With the help of local laborers and volunteers,
the students set to work, acting as general contractors and laborers
themselves. It wasn’t easy; days were filled with frustration and
tears, along with small triumphs. "It’s difficult to be out
there in 100-degree heat and 100 percent humidity," says Levy,
"digging dirt, mixing mortar, laying brick. The students expected
it would take only three days, and then they could go on vacation.
It took ten."
But in the end Medrano had a new home, and five
IC students came home with portfolios full of photographs — and
a lifetime of memories.