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NOLA 2017 Reflection

The Service Learning trip to New Orleans has, by far, been one of the best learning experiences. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans and learn about the culture, contribute to a long-term study, and learn about the strength and resiliency of New Orleanians. The 10 day trip went by in a what seemed liked a blink of an eye. Here’s a brief reflection on just some of things we did and experienced:

 

Lower Ninth Ward Levee Breach. Learned the truth about levees and why they failed. There is currently no museum for Hurricane Katrina. One has to wonder why it is not something that is talked about.

David Young founded Capstone Community Gardens in 2010. He provides fresh produce for residents who live in the Lower Ninth Ward. Capstone has provided 2,550 lbs of food for residents. We spent an afternoon helping David with weeding, planting and light carpentry work. His dedication to the people living in the Lower Ninth Ward is not only helping them to become healthier, but more food secure as well. I am glad we were able to help and I hope to continue helping by either volunteering my time or donating money/tools.

Woodlands Trail and Park is where the class collected data on native and invasive woody plant species. The data will be added to a long-term data set so that diversity of the plant species can be monitored and maintained.

Our class used band transects 50 meters apart that started in the middle of the trail and extended to the right 100m into the vegetation. Although the work was challenging, I am happy to have been able to contribute to the research. I was motivated to work hard because I know that the people of New Orleans appreciate the work that we do. We are helping to preserve one of the last bottomland hardwood forests in the area, which is a crucial storm buffer.

Chickie Wah Wah. Jon Cleary performed. I am thankful that Dr. Anderson took us to see so many great local artists. The music scene is alive in New Orleans, with performances being announced on the radio daily. I really enjoyed the jazz musicians that we saw at clubs and on the streets and I bought a few CDs so that I could have a little piece of New Orleans to take home and share with my family and friend. Fun Fact: New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz.

Crawfish Boil! Thank you to the Woodlands Plantation and Foster Creppel for being such a wonderful host. We all had a blast touring the former plantation and now gorgeous bed and breakfast. Foster showed us the gators and gave us a tour of the breathtaking grounds. We even met the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Billy Nungesser. He was such a humble person who cares deeply for the people of Louisiana.

This is the old Surveyor’s house. It sleeps 8 people. The home has been updated with modern comforts, but it still has all the charm and beauty of an old Southern home. I loved spending the night here and waking up to watch the sunrise out on the front porch.

Dr. John Lambrinos is talking to us at a local resident’s home located in Buras. Last year the NOLA group helped out with the garden. John is explaining how fertile the soil is in the area. We unfortunately could not help with the garden because there were not enough supplies to get started. We needed to till the ground in preparation for planting. Hopefully next years group will be able to get some good work done.

Fun night at Rock n Bowl. We bowled and danced to great music and just before we left we were serenaded by a man with a ukulele! He even gave us rough cuts to take home! Another treasured memory with a great group!

We visited the Whitney Plantation which is a museum that focuses on the enslaved instead of the enslaver. It was founded in 1752 and operated until 1970. There were 354 slaves. New Orleans was a major hub for slave trade. I learned how dangerous sugar production is. It was a chilling experience, but I learned a lot and even purchased a couple books so that I could learn more.

Again, these are a just of few of the many memories I have. I could honestly fill many more pages with all that I have learned!

As I look through all the pictures and all my notes I am brought back to New Orleans. So many incredible memories that I will treasure forever. This was a truly unique and special trip and words cannot describe how thankful and appreciative I am to have been able to soak in the beautiful and special place that New Orleans is. I am deeply moved and humbled. I honestly cannot wait to go back. This trip has inspired me to continue to work hard so that I can continue to help people and do what I can to make this world a better place. I know how truly fortunate I am, and I want to use that to do good in the world. I hope to take home ALL that I have learned so that I can teach people and tell them about New Orleans. The spread of knowledge is so important, and sometimes the best knowledge is gained from simply talking to local people (they also tell some of the best stories).

A special thank you to Dr. Anderson “our fearless leader” — without whom this trip would not have been possible. Thank you also to Dr. John Lambrinos and Dr. Tom Huggins for their endless humor and knowledge. Thank you to Kevin Mapp (CSUCI Photographer and Videographer) for documenting the trip so beautifully! Thank you to Emily Welsh for all that she does. Thank you to Dr. Don Rodriguez and Dr. Dan Wakely for their continued support. Thank you to CSUCI’s Instructionally Related Activities Fund and the ESRM Program. Thank you to all of the people we met in New Orleans who took the time talk to with us and enlighten us. Last but certainly not least, thank you to my NOLA 2017 peers, everyone brought something special and unique to the trip. I am so grateful to have gotten to know each of them and to have shared in creating so many great memories. You ALL are awesome!

Day 6: Speaker Harry Shearer at The Historic New Orleans Collection

Posted from Austin, Texas, United States.

Harry Shearer an actor, musician, and creator of the documentary of the Big Uneasy explained in detail how Americorps and the federal government are responsible for the levee failure that followed Hurricane Katrina. Negligence is what caused the most destruction, not the hurricane itself. The hurricane was only a catergory 3 by the time it hit land. He explained how the media only covered part of the whole story because it is known that corrupt politicians and powerful companies control them. The levees failed because engineers failed to build them adequately. They should have been much taller and been reevaluated every [insert how many] years to meet the impact of a 100-year hurricane. The Army Corps of Engineers does not want to take responsibility for the levee failure. They spent more money trying to cover up than on fixing the failure.

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NOLA: Night 1: What I hope to get out of this trip

We landed in New Orleans. By the time we got into the rental van and on the road it was dark and disorienting. I’m excited to see New Orleans in the day time. I look forward to Field Work and I.D.ing plants and contributing to the existing data set. I’m also excited to listen to local jazz artists & experience all the sights, sounds & tastes of this incredibly culturally rich city. I hope to talk to locals about what it’s like to live here and their experiences. I know I’ll walk more informed, humbled, and proud of the work my group and I did. 

Now for some dinner at Brick Oven Cafe…

The Final Countdown to NOLA!

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

There is officially one week until the start of the 2017 trip to New Orleans. Our weekly meetings have been eye-opening and informative. I can’t wait to get out there and dive into field work and become immersed in the unique New Orleans culture. I feel so fortunate to be going on this trip. My goal is to help the community as much as I possibly can, and also learn as much as possible so that I can educate other people.