Habitat project draws international response.

Six International MBA (IMBA) students, all 2010 graduates and hailing from around the world—including Spain, Kuwait, Venezuela and India—volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for a Miami family. Nouf Alfraih, Oscar De Lima, Gonzalo Garcia, Caitlin Nolan, William Torres and Dave Yadav roofed, put up inside walls, reinforced concrete walls with wood and got a dose of what De Lima calls “social responsibility consciousness.”

Front row, left to right: Caitlin Nolan, William Torres and Nouf Alfraih; back row, left to right: Dave Yadav and Gonzalo Garcia; not pictured: Oscar De Lima

According to him, volunteering is “soul healing. I have contributed in micro entrepreneurship seminars for persons willing to start a business in Caracas and participated in a town restoration project that benefited more than 500 people living in an unexploited community in Venezuela,” he said.

For Garcia and Torres, the experience highlighted the consequences of their actions as business people.

“It’s important to see the reality on the street and understand that as a business person you are responsible to make a positive impact,” said Garcia, who shared his roofing expertise and who was drawn to the opportunity because he could “dedicate my time to do some good since I was a student and money was tight.”

Volunteers helped hoist inside walls.

Torres, a veteran Habitat volunteer, having participated as a high school student and as an undergraduate, though claiming no special talents “beyond my ability to swing a hammer with somewhat decent accuracy” appreciated getting “perspective on the people who may be affected by my decisions when I am in the business world,” and has no doubt that this will not be his last volunteer stint with Habitat.

Caitlin Nolan and William Torres, two of the FIU volunteers

Experience has human touch.

Though the work was challenging, it provided a chance for the students to engage with each other and with strangers.

“The experience was a welcome diversion from our studies,” Torres said. “It was also nice to work on something other than papers and exams with my classmates,” while for Gomez, the impact came from meeting the people who were going to own the house, seeing their faces and their happiness. It just felt great.”

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