Bike Adventure leader: Global Builders trip to Haiti further enhances perspective

Bike Adventure leader: Global Builders trip to Haiti further enhances perspective

Connor Ciment, Fuller Center Bike Adventure trip leader, has had a roller-coaster of a last two years. In fact, little in his life has remained the same, other than a love for his bicycle.

After graduating college in May of 2015, Ciment joined the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. “I loved riding my bike, and I was looking for a way to do it across the country,” he said. “I took a leap of faith, and jumped on the ride right out of college.”

Once on the ride, Ciment learned the trip leader position would be open. Already having fallen in love with the mission, Ciment “got really attached to what The Fuller Center does, especially how it does it.” Shortly thereafter, he committed to a year of service with the Fuller Center.

As a graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in mechanical engineering, the physical act of building houses was attractive to Ciment. Reflecting on past builds he has worked on in America, he fondly remembers “where the whole group worked together as one body on one single project, especially alongside the homeowners.”

It didn’t take long, however, for Ciment to develop an interest in participating in a Global Builders trip internationally. Appropriately enough, it was a fellow cyclist that initiated his dream becoming a reality.

“Mike Oliphant, who rode the Natchez Trace with me in 2016, reached out to ask if I wanted to co-lead a Global Builders trip with him. I jumped at the chance.” After working out the details, the duo traveled to Pigñon, Haiti, last month

With the trip in the rear-view mirror, Ciment is even more deeply invested in The Fuller Center than he was before.

Ciment is quick to address the profound effect of cultural barriers on the experience: “Building in the US, it’s like having home-field advantage; you speak the language, you understand the culture. In Haiti, I didn’t speak the language, and I wasn’t necessarily aware of the full context of culture around me.”

Through the week, however, Ciment was impressed by the connections he and the team were able to form despite the barriers between them. “Through working side-by-side with somebody, you start to get to know them regardless of language and regardless of that cultural barrier. By the third day, there’s a certain silent ballet going on, you know each other well enough to work seamlessly without ever having spoken a sentence.”

Ciment reflects on the moment he began to integrate into the community around him. “Suez, a Haitian mason, was laying blocks, and he called for me to pick up a block for him. Instead of placing it for me, he let me place it in the mortar myself. It was kind of an extra step towards inviting me into a bigger portion of the building process, which was a really cool level of comfort that we reached together. Again, we still hadn’t spoken.”

“Through working side-by-side with somebody, you start to get to know them regardless of language and regardless of that cultural barrier.” — Connor Ciment

When asked if his week in Haiti affected how he saw the Fuller Center as a whole, Ciment didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely. You witness the dramatic impact you can have on a family’s life. It really brings me a lot of gratitude that I can be a part of such an organization.

“It also brings new meaning to the Bike Adventure, which is raising a lot of money. With this experience I can see infinitely more tangibly how impactful the fundraising is for folks in need, all over the world.”

Ciment left Haiti deeply impressed by the strong local Fuller Center leadership. “Gerald is doing an amazing job, and I am extremely proud to be working alongside him as his efforts go far beyond housing, most directly including education. The school that he is the principal for is churning out young leaders who will be the generation that continues to lift up Pigñon and lift up Haiti and bring it to be the healthy and prosperous country that it can be.”

Click here for more information on global builders

 

Bike Adventure participant brings Fuller Center tradition into her classroom

Bike Adventure participant brings Fuller Center tradition into her classroom

When first testing the idea of partnership housing, Millard Fuller brought home a new tradition from the Democratic Republic of the Congo: the word “Oyee.” Used to express excitement, joy, and gratitude, it is often shouted with the left fist raised in the air.

After Millard brought the now-infamous word to the Fuller Center, it was quickly adopted by the Bike Adventure, where 2016 whole-way rider Gloria Mesick encountered the word for the first time.

On the Bike Adventure, the word is often used to commend other riders for supportive acts, from helping out with a flat tire to filling up a water bottle. Having seen the community-building potential the word holds, Gloria decided to bring the word home to Bettendorf, IA, and into her 3rd grade classroom.

“I started the oyees with the children during our Morning Meetings.,” Gloria explained. “I feel it has really helped them think throughout the day how their classmates have been kind to them.”

“I believe it is building a community of children who care for and help one another,” Gloria expressed of the potential long-term effects of the exercise. 

Oyee, Gloria! 

Bike Adventure wrapping up record year, but still needs your support!

Bike Adventure wrapping up record year, but still needs your support!

As hard as it is to believe, the 2016 Fuller Center Bike Adventure year is drawing to an end after the conclusion of the Silver Comet ride this past weekend.

The 128-mile weekend event drew 26 riders from 10 different states, coming from as far away as California and Michigan. Riders were treated to beautiful wilderness views along the Silver Comet Trail and at the Chief Ladiga campground in Alabama. Between the participants, we were able to raise over $1,900 for the affordable housing movement!

As a whole, the 2016 Bike Adventure year was full of new surprises. Our annual Spring Ride featured an additional build day with the Fuller Center for Housing of Middle Tennessee, as well as the traditional build day with the Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing in Mississippi. The Summer Ride experienced incredible growth this year- with increasing participation causing us to split the ride into two groups for the first time ever!

The 2016 Bike Adventure fundraising goal was $200,000 dollars. Thanks to riders, friends, and family all over the nation, we have shattered that number and are sitting at $299,388.74, placing us dangerously close to raising a full $100,000 over our original goal!

The last day to donate and have your dollars count towards the 2016 year is this Friday. If you would like to help us make even more Bike Adventure history, follow the link below to donate!

Thank you to every participant, support team member, church host, Covenant Partner, donor, and friend made along the way for helping make the 2016 Bike Adventure year the huge success that it was. Oyee!

CLick here to help the bike adventure reach $300,000