Getting There – A Prologue of Sorts
Prior to embarking on our journey to New Orleans, we participated in three mini-curriculum sessions, organized by Janice, Kyle, Lynn, and Cheyenne, our trip leaders. These sessions were designed to help acquaint us with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and how it has been handled since it occurred ten years ago. The first session focused on the storm and St. Bernard’s Project, the organization we will be working with, while the second session focused on the aftermath of the storm and different issues that arose because of how it was handled. The third and final session provided a space to discuss these issues, as well as a space to learn some of the different skills that we will need for the work that we will be doing (i.e. ladder safety, painting tips, and hanging drywall). These sessions were incredibly helpful for getting us together as a team and priming us for our trip to New Orleans.
Arrival! A Snapshot of the First and Second Day
- The actual trip – 8 1/2 hours of travel (exhausting but totally worth it!)
- Quick orientation of Camp Hope, our home for the week
- Lunch at Rocky and Carlo’s – “That’s a lot of food” #yum
- Basin Street Visitors Center
- Congo Square at Louis Armstrong Park
- French Quarter/Jackson Square/Presbytere
- Very necessary nap time
- Back to the French Quarter for dinner and nighttime fun!
- WWII Museum/Beyond All Boundaries Movie
- SLICE Pizza – Super delish GF pizza #yum
- Swamp Tour – Jake got his gator selfie, and we were all entertained by the tour guide
- Audobon Park
- Carrollton Avenue
This weekend, we got to experience the lively culture that New Orleans is best known for, which is what the snapshots above are meant to share. If you ever make it to NOLA, be sure to check these places out – I think we’d all give them our stamps of approval!
So We’re Here – Now What? A Reflection for Looking Ahead
I suppose introductions are helpful, and I kind of forgot about it until this point. But my name is Ashlynn, and I will be your blogger for this week! This is my second time with the Katrina Recovery Team, and I could not be more excited to be working with the St. Bernard’s Project again. My first time on the trip was an incredible experience that I’ve carried with me throughout my entire time at Bucknell. With these reflections, I hope to give you just a little bit more of a personal take from our experiences here. And with our first day of work quickly approaching, here’s a little bit of what’s weighing on my mind.
It’s a little challenging to feel totally at peace with my NOLA experience right now. Perhaps it is because I’ve done this trip before, and the conviction I felt in my heart never left. I think that now, New Orleans is more known for its intensely rich and vibrant culture – not so much for the disparity and injustice that is still so prevalent. I know that part of that speaks to the strength of the people living here – that despite the ten long years that they’ve had to sit barely noticed, they’ve done so with more patience and grace than this country deserves. But part of it also speaks to the truth that the aftermath of Katrina was poorly handled; and although we can’t change the past, we can certainly affect the future – a knowledge I don’t think this country has been taking full advantage of.
Over the past weekend, we have had the amazing opportunity to immerse ourselves in the uniquely invigorating culture that is New Orleans. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about NOLA is that once you’re engulfed by the excitement of it, you forget about the reality of it. When you’re walking through the French Quarter, delighting in the vast array of different cuisines, strolling through Audobon Park, snapping selfies with gators, marveling at the street performers, yelling for beads on Bourbon Street, and dancing to the incredibly talented multitude of musicians, it’s easy to be completely submerged. And you’re left with an insatiable hunger for more of the culture, more of the experience that only New Orleans has the means to give you. It’s a beautiful time, in a beautiful place, with beautiful people. However, it’s important not to forget the reality – the reality that there is a countless number of houses that are still boarded up; the reality that the Ninth Ward still bears wounds from Katrina that have not even started the healing process; a reality that ten years time cannot simply erase. Twenty of us have embarked on this trip because there is something about NOLA, Katrina, and the aftermath that has resonated with us. And while we’ve had the weekend to get acquainted with the culture, tomorrow, the real work begins. Tomorrow ( or really later today), we will start to see the other side of New Orleans – the reality that many of its people are living in. Tomorrow, we will be challenged – not just physically, but emotionally. We will see a new reality, one that may be hard for some of us to face. May we be as open to the unfamiliar and less pleasant as we are to the familiar and exciting.