Born and raised in Staten Island, Matt Amore attended BU in 2000. After taking COM101, Matt’s pursuit of a journalism slightly diverged into the field of public relations. In COM 201, Matt’s fieldwork experiences led to long-lasting memories, including interviewing ABC’s Once Upon a Time star Ginnifer Goodwin, a BU alumna. Matt currently works as a teacher in New York and has spent several summers working with Habitat for Humanity. Here, Matt discusses his work with Habitat, as well as some of the photos he has taken on his trips.
So what inspired you to involve yourself with Habitat for Humanity? As well as your passion for photography? Any next projects?
Matt Amore: I always had this idea of wanting to work in education. So my first year after college I did an Americorps service program out in Seattle, working in a school. I really had a positive experience doing that, and it really got me thinking that one day there will be a career shift in my future. As a result, I moved back to New York because I had gotten a PR job, which I did for a couple of years. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Since leaving I was unable to find a new gig for the longest time.
As a result I grew progressively tired of waiting, so I applied to grad school in order to start my education career. I am currently a middle school teacher, here in New York City. Curiously I am back in school, for my second master’s degree in educational leadership. I will have graduated a year from December, and by then I will be able to become a headmaster or a school administrator.
Wow, that’s pretty impressive.
MA: To go back to your original question. Being a teacher, I have my summers off, so I try to make the most of them. So for most of them I’ve been spending my time doing some service for Habitat for Humanity. In which I found myself leading service trips throughout the globe. I took six trips in total. I am no expert in photography, but I got into it back in BU, when I took Photo 101 class as an elective. I run the photography club back in my middle school, I can say it’s both a hobby as well as passion of mine.
What about Habitat for Humanity really interests you? Could you tell me more about it?
MA: Yes, Global Village is the international division of Habitat for Humanity. I got involved with them in 2009 when I joined a team that built in Botswana. I had such a great experience, that a year and a half later, I rejoined my team leaders on a build in Vietnam. I was then interested and encouraged to become a team leader so I can organize my own trips. Since doing that, I’ve led three builds: to Romania in 2012, Trinidad in 2013, and Chile in 2016. I’ve become a big advocate of Habitat. Their mission is much more than just building homes for families in need. Their work is dedicated to transforming lives and communities, and giving a voice to the oppressed. Their mission is really more rooted in social justice than just building homes.
If you don’t mind could you please elaborate on the pictures?
MA: I took these pictures when I was leading a trip for Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program to Santiago, Chile in July 2016. I always like to take inventory of the supplies when we start, as these almost literally become the building blocks upon which our work rests. This trip was special in that it was a small team — only six of us — and we immediately bonded as a group and with the family with whom we were building.
Together, we were one big happy family for the week, working on a special project, which is worth mentioning, as it’s pretty special. I had been eyeing this project for quite some time as I have previous experience working with adults with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities through a summer camp I’ve been volunteering at since 1998. It was the first time I had done a house extension/renovation, as we added a bedroom and bathroom to the first floor, allowing the daughter of the family who is wheelchair bound to sleep on the ground level. Prior to our work, the family would take turns carrying her up a very narrow stairwell each night. The work we put in that week felt real, immediate, and important.
The pictures that I’m including show some of the supplies we used, our safety hats with our nametags, “all hands in” during our regular morning reflection meetings, and a group selfie in the new room we constructed at the house dedication on the last day. I’m on the bottom right in the orange hat.
According to Matt, GV’s mission goal for this trip was:
“Volunteers will work on the Our Children Return Home project. Children with life-threatening illnesses in Chile are often relocated permanently to medical facilities to ensure the quality of their living conditions. In cases where the children remain in the home, inadequate housing conditions can jeopardize the effectiveness of their treatment. In response, this project aims to bring a light of hope by building or improving bedrooms for children with special needs. This allows children to recover in their own home and under the care of their families, leaving behind hospitals and children shelters.”
If you don’t mind could you please elaborate on the following pictures?
MA: These are from my trip to Indonesia this past summer, 2017. We built in the city of Jogjakarta on the island of Java. There wasn’t any special project this time, but rather just a typical home construction for a family in need. We built for a total of eight days with the family, which spanned four generations all living under one roof. Image 2 shows the oldest and the youngest family members. We grew so close to the family that, they would offer us coconuts as a way of cooling us off and rehydrating us after a long, hot, sweaty day.
Rodrigo Pessoa de Queiroz Davies, Contributing Writer
Rodrigo was born in Brazil and came to BU after graduating from Aiglon College, a boarding school in Switzerland. Rodrigo studies advertising and sociology, and his hobbies include kitesurfing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.