Just Because We’re Leaving Doesn’t Mean We’ll Forget
This week was an incredible week. Not only was it filled with introductions to the people and culture of New Orleans, but it was also filled with introductions to different issues and ideas that many of us hadn’t experienced prior to this trip. We were blessed by our incredibly loving and generous hosts at Camp Hope, Walt, Malou, and Carl. We were fiercely led by our wonderfully patient and enthusiastic site leaders, Ashlyn, Tann, and Tonya. We were moved by beautifully shared stories from Dr. Lopez and Miss Pamela. And finally, we were encouraged by each other in a group dynamic more positive and inviting than most I’ve experienced. I think we are all leaving with new perspectives and levels of compassion and care. Our final day held one last cultural experience (two if you count Popeyes) and a final group reflection. Below is a tiny snapshot and final reflection.
Snapshot! Our Last Day
- Very early wake up, followed by packing and cleaning
- St. Louis Cemetery Tour – Janice really knew her stuff! (The tour guide we paid, not so much)
- Final group reflection
- Said goodbye to New Orleans, but kept the memories
Looking Back – One Last Reflection
At the beginning of the week, I was having a hard time reconciling the displayed parts of New Orleans with the hidden and forgotten. As we leave now, I still feel a slight bit of that tension, but perhaps with more hope and positivity than before. I have a mixture of feelings. Part of me feels satisfied with the work we were able to complete, while part of me longs to do more. Part of me feels encouraged by my classmates and the people I was able to interact with down here, while part of me feels discouraged that there are people who just don’t care as much about situations and issues like the ones prevalent in New Orleans. It’s a balance, I suppose. In a world where there’s free will, there will always be the option between right and wrong. Between caring and avoiding. Between compassion and taking advantage of vulnerability. While there have been a lot of hard things to grapple with this week, there have also been a lot of beautiful moments to alleviate that weight. Hearing Dr. Lopez share about the acts of humanism he experienced while stuck in Charity Hospital restored my faith in how we can respond in seemingly hopeless situations. Listening to Miss Pamela share her gratitude moved my heart more towards appreciation and thankfulness than anything else. Learning from the SBP staff about their different experiences and why they’re doing what they’re doing with Americorp motivated me to think more deeply about how I can align my passions with my life after graduation. Being cared for by Walt, Malou, and Carl all week showed me that there is joy to be had in just being able to do the little things for people, like feed them. Watching the people of New Orleans thrive in their home showed me that while communities may seem broken, they are certainly not beyond repair. And then there’s my KRT teammates, who baffled me (in the best possible way) with how a group can come together and teach other so much, all in a week’s time. Adem with his quick humor and insightful reflections; Yash with his ability to know when someone needs a friend; Alisha with her contagious energy and loving hugs; Madison with her big (bigger than I think she realizes) heart; Rahul with his genuinely kind heart; Jake with his fun-loving personality and selfie stick; Diana with her quiet, yet passionate diligence; Chau with her gentle soul and hilarious reflections; Christian with his calming demeanor and half-decent jump shot; Shirah with her realness and lovely singing voice; Mona with her ability to listen and connect; Hannah with her quick-witted responses to offensive tour guides; Jorden with her passion for people and desire to learn; Melody with her incredibly deep compassion; Luis Felipe with his quiet humor and willingness to let me fall asleep on his shoulder; Kyle with his enthusiasm for his home; Janice with her vast knowledge and ability to lighten the mood; Cheyenne with her ability to make everyone feel loved and important; and finally Lynn, with her vulnerability and hilariously correct usage of “out the gate.” I learned a lot from these people. With them, I have experienced a lot of incredible moments this week, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have had them and to share them. Looking back, I hope to keep every moment, the disheartening and the encouraging, close to my heart; moving forward, I hope to use them as building blocks for a foundation of experiences that will continue to grow and shape me as an individual striving to love the world around me.