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Sep. 22, 2005
Greetings from Gdansk!
Catagorizing this as "office life" may be a bit of a stretch, but since there are three of us here in Poland from Clif Bar, it counts in my book. Grady (marketing), Cristen (finance) and I have spent the past week and a half in Gdansk, Poland working our butts off for Habitat for Humanity.

As you may or may not know, we can do community service work on company time. Our Project 2080 donates (at least) the equivalent of full-time employee's hours to volunteer and community work. Fourty hours/week x 52 weeks = 2080 hours. People deliver Meals on Wheels, work on trail restoration projects, volunteer at hospitals, etc. Starting last year, the program left the confines of our local community and went international with Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program. Last year it was Romania, this year it's in Poland.

Gdansk is on the Baltic Sea, formerly known (in German) as Danzig. The house that our team is building is outside of the main city and will house 5 families. The majority of our work has been drywalling and all the various activities associated with it: cutting metal frames for walls and doors, putting in insulation, hanging ceilings, drilling anchors and putting up beams for the ceiling, mixing a concrete-like glue, mudding, taping, sanding and cutting sheets upon sheets of drywall.

I've been working closely with Edward, the building site manager/foreman, working on my non-existant Polish and improving my gesturing skills. It's astonishing how much you can understand one another with a handful of words, drawings and pointing. Monika, the local Habitat affiliate, is there to translate when an understanding cannot be figured out.

In addition to us, there are 10 Americans and 2 Canadians on the trip. Great people, all of them. Together, we're learning to appreciate fried fish, Polish beer and lots of cabbage. On the few days off we've had, we've been able to visit the Solidarity Museum (the trade union started in the shipyards here, helping end the Soviet control of Eastern Europe), Malbork Castle, and the beautiful city of Gdansk (much of which has been rebuilt since WWII).

We've worked alongside some of the families who will be living in the units. My favorite experience has been eating dinner at the home of Jacek and Dorota and learning more about life here. He's an engineer with 3M and she's an art instructor for a community center, not to mention a talented printmaker and incredible cook! They will be living on the second floor on the left.

The experience of a lifetime doesn't begin to describe these two weeks. I'll post pictures when I return.

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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