Off the Clock: Staffer Joins Habitat for Humanity Effort

Posted: September 3, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

As assistive technology/web accessibility coordinator in George Mason’s Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human DisAbilities, Kristine Neuber works closely with students, faculty, and staff who need special equipment, including voice recognition programs, to utilize Mason’s computer technology. She also ensures that the computer labs and other technology centers on the university’s campuses are accessible to those with disabilities. However, come mid-September, Neuber will be using some of her accumulated vacation time and jetting off to Botswana, a nation in southern Africa, where she will help build a house as part of a Habitat for Humanity Global Village Work Camp in the village of Mahalapye.

Kristine Neuber
Kristine Neuber
Photo by Evan Cantwell

The trip will be Neuber’s first time traveling outside continental North America. She originally became interested in joining the Habitat for Humanity Program after reading about it on the organization’s web site. Although work camp programs are hosted in a variety of locations, she was drawn to Botswana because of her strong desire to visit Africa. “It also happened to fall during a time when I was able to go, so it worked out,” says Neuber, who earned her MEd at George Mason.

Another driving force in Neuber’s decision to go abroad was knowing she would serve as an unofficial ambassador of sorts, showing people of another country that not all U.S. citizens match the stereotype of the ethnocentric, self-centered, and arrogant American. “There is an idea of what Americans are like—very self-centered and only worried about their own country. I wanted to go over and, in my own little way, show that Americans really are compassionate and concerned about what’s going on in the world,” she says. “The great part about Habitat for Humanity is that you work together with the local people, so you don’t just go over and see the tourist spots, you have firsthand interaction. I think it will be a really rewarding experience because of that.”

Mahalapye, the village where Neuber and her group will be working, is one of the largest in Botswana, serving as a transit point along the nation’s railway system. Upon arriving in the village on Sept. 19, Neuber’s group will work on constructing a house for the following six days, have a day of rest, then work two more days. From Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, the group will go on a whirlwind tourist trip, which will include a wildlife safari. The volunteers then depart for their respective hometowns.

“I have always wanted to travel outside the United States, but since I’m single, it’s hard to travel by yourself, I think. So, with 12 other people from all over the country going, with none of us really knowing one another, it is a way for me to go to another country without being ‘alone,'” Neuber says.

To view a full schedule of Neuber’s Habitat for Humanity trip and related information, visit the project’s web site.

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