Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 6: The Finale

           Yard work was on everyone’s mind when we first woke up. With lasting exhaustion from yesterday’s work, we were all eager to help landscape and refurbish the land we have been staying on. We started with half the group leaving to do some gardening, while the other half helped Dick with cleaning out the shed. This was a new experience since we experienced new things such as working besides animals of many kinds including a rat, and a salamander.

           After a break we thought we were finished yet we were not. That is when we began to clear more brush to a pile to be burned, which we were all eager to see. Yet we were let down when they decided to refrain from burning the brush due to winds. After, our spirits were lifted when we learned of our next job to tear down a fence using tools such as axes and pickaxes. Many ended up on the ground whether from hysterically laughing or from throwing themselves on the ground from falling. Once done, we were congratulated with words of gratitude including being told we were excellent workers. Hours later we were able to hold a discussion group Deanna, from the Center of Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal, about our experiences in the community. At the end it was a great day, and are currently working on the last night’s bonfire.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 5

Alex Agudelo'13 
Matt Ryan '14    
        After a busy day yesterday working at the Chahta-Ima school, we woke up exhausted. With a big day ahead of us, Liam made delicious pancakes for breakfast. We then set out on a five minute drive to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bayou Lacombe Center. Our job today was to aid in the restoration and maintenance of the Camellia garden and the plant refuges. We split into two groups, both in varying locations but working at similar tasks.  We weeded, pruned, and cut down unwanted trees in the Camellia garden. This backbreaking work was tough however rewarding. By the time we were done, we were able to step back to see how nice the garden looked.

         After a nice lunch in an open field outside, we explored the visitor center in preparation for our canoe journey.   Although there were a couple of mishaps, such as Shaun and me (Matt) were trapped on top of a rock for about ten minutes, it was an absolutely spectacular day to go canoeing. Unfortunately, we did not see that much wildlife. Some of us saw a couple of mullet fish jumping out of the water and a hawk. Next, we finished the self guided tour of the devastated areas of Katrina. We drove through the towns of Gentilly and Lakeview, which were less devastated areas of the city, although it got just as much water as the Lower 9th ward. These areas were wealthier, so they rebuilt and recovered faster. We ended the tiring day with a typical Louisiana cuisine in the Unitarian Universalist Church conversing with the members of the church.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 4

Day 4

Sam Vasquez and Pat O’Connor

            The day started off at 6:00 AM, although we left the house at 8:00. With fourteen people in the house needing to all use the single shower, you can imagine how hectic it is in the morning and how we actually need two hours to get ready. Once we were finally ready, we made our way to Chahta-Ima Elementary School, which has the highest poverty rate in its county, along with a great number of native New Orleanians. Upon arrival, the group split up into different tasks. We (Sam and Pat) along with two other students (James and Chris) decided to help paint one of the classrooms that needed a paint job. While we were doing this, the others were split up into different classrooms throughout the school, helping the teachers out whenever need be. Upon finishing our task, very thoroughly, we joined the others in the classrooms.

            In the classrooms we got to see what the people in New Orleans are truly like. We spent time with the pre-K class through the third grade class. All of us enjoyed spending time with the kids whom had an open attitude and were really fun to be around. By the end we all became good friends and it was tough to say good-bye to them. Once the regular school day was over, we then stayed for the after school program, called the 21st Century, helping kids do their homework. After a nine hour school day, we finished off the day with a delicious meal given to us by our generous hosts.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 3
John Carroll & Nolan Dow
Today we woke up early to make the 9 AM mass at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis in Jackson Square. After a nice mass we enjoyed traditional beignets and café-au-laits at the famous, open-air Café du Monde. We then were able to get a view of the devastation from Katrina by taking a self guided driving tour in the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods, especially the Lower 9th Ward.  Most of us were surprised by the houses that were still left in shambles even more than seven years after the storm. We learned about the housing, insurance, and economic issues that made rebuilding and even reclaiming houses extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many residents. Through conversations with longtime Lower 9th Ward residents, we heard stories about exactly where and how the levees breached and filled up the neighborhood. We also learned of the environmental side effects of industrialization and their effects on the natural make-up of the city. We then moved quickly to the Center for Ethical Living for a dialogue on race in New Orleans and a dinner of sausage, rice, beans, and potato salad topped off with some King Cake. We were in for an early night to prepare for tomorrow’s service.

Day 2

Waking up at 6:00 AM, not one of us thought waking up this early would be possible after a night like last night.  As early as 9:00 AM we headed over to Mardi Gras World, where hundreds of floats and props were stationed in a large warehouse.  Not only were there items from this past Mardi Gras, which happened to be last week, but there were items 5-10 years old.  After this museum, we headed to the French Quarter for shopping and eating.  The French Quarter was filled with a vast array of venders, selling everything from t-shirts to alligator on a stick.  After this we walked thoughout the city, and even down the historic Bourbon St.   To change things up, we drove across the city to visit the University of Tulane and Loyola University of New Orleans, both of which happened to be right next to each other.  Both universities looked vast and immense, and were close to the shoreline of a famous levee along the river.  Finally, we headed to dinner at Arnaud's Remoulade and proceeded to Bourbon St. after, where it looked like a fraternity party a couple miles long.  To close out the night, we attended a one hour jazz concert at Preservation Hall, where there was just standing room only.  What was unique about this place was that it almost seemed like an underground music hangout, a place where upcoming artists could get their name out, and that's just what happened.  A band by the name of The New Orleans Nightingales played for us, and every single player played their own great solo.  We then walked back to the cars and proceeded to the house.  By the time this very eventful night was over, it was around 11:00 PM.

James Ditomassi '14 Shaun Griswold '14
Photo credit: Nolan Dow '14

Friday, February 15, 2013

Liam Feeney ‘13 and Michael Burke ‘14

            Lent, the season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, is now upon us. In the Lenten spirit, a small company from BC High travelled to New Orleans today for a week of service. Upon arrival, we were met with warm weather and warm hearts. Taxicabs let us cross the street with patience, friendly strangers offered water bottles and directions, and locals kindly let us drive on the wrong side of the road(!). New Orleans is a sight to behold. The sun set beautifully as we trekked across the 24 mile long Pontchartrain Bridge. After a full day of travelling (and napping), we finally reached the North Shore Unitarian Universalist sanctuary. Here, we shared in a welcome meal of crawfish etouffee and delicious homemade cookies with our affable and generous hosts. But now it is time to recharge for the busy days ahead.