Do I know what it means to miss New Orleans? A Reflection

First of all, I’d like to start off by recapping some awesome moments from our NOLA symposium. These moments include Don and Dan signing my Don and Dan!

The legend!

Im his number 1 fan!


I’m also his number 1 fan!

And lets not forget the picture I painted of Sean wrestling an Alligator! I got the whole crew to sign it. I think Sean liked it!

(We had to take this picture 7 times)

It was a fun night filled with hilarious memories. I think the sound of Kevin (our photographer) laughing at the ridiculousness of my field how-to video made the whole event for me. Good food and good people all around! In case anyones interested, here the exact video:

But besides the amazing symposium and get together, I’d like to talk about my feelings towards our overall trip. I’ll begin by saying I went in with very high expectations. As most ESRM students grow through the program, one of the many things they learn is that the NOLA trip that goes out every year is one of the most amazing, life changing experiences. It is told time and time again that going out to meet the locals, performing service learning, and engaging in the New Orleans culture is an unforgettable time. It is also told that this trip is wild, full of hard work, and full of late night rewards. I was excited going in, as I’m sure was everybody else.

My initial thought upon entering the class was “holy crap, this is a lot of females!” We had 11 girls and 1 guy in our crew. I thought this would make for a hectic experience, but honestly I’m so happy that thought has been debunked.

It’s weird really. When you’re there in Louisiana, everything is going so fast. You’re meeting so many people every day, doing so many things. If you’re not working, you’re out and about. If you’re back at the house, you’re entering data or blogging. If you’re not asleep, you’re exploring bits of the night time as much as you can. And if you’re not doing any of those things, you’re probably squeezing in a 5 minute shower!

Every day is a different kind of crazy. Some days everyone is having the time of their life. But most days, people are tired and cranky. We’re all covered in sweat, mud, and pollen. We’re constantly changing gears. Its an emotional roller coaster. You’re so busy getting caught up in the sights and the places, constantly trying to take pictures and take in the experience. I know for myself, I was trying so hard to feel that connection with the people we were helping. It was there, and it resonated deep within me. When life is moving so fast, there isn’t really time to realize who you’re with and the things that are happening.

The only time I realized this was when we all spent the night with Katie from Woodlands Conservancy, making dinner and enjoying ourselves at her beautiful house. It was the only place we went to with a homestyle setting, where we were technically “out”. I’ve never laughed so hard, or conversed as long as I did in her living room, with anybody. All of us were just sitting around and bonding. It was the only night where all of us were in one place (not half in the ministry house, half at jazz clubs) having a good time. That night was really beautiful. And more-so, it made me realize the amazing people I was with on this trip. I loved all of the girls around me (Hayden too!). I loved and respected our amazing professors for taking us out and working so hard to get us here. I loved and respected Katie and her Husband, for letting us into their home and letting us work in the woodlands. I felt like all of us in that house were a huge happy family.

And that’s what I took away from this trip. Not just the places we went to, and the people we met. But more the relationships I made with my peers. The same people who might one day go back with me and know what it’s like to miss New Orleans. The same people who connected with the locals, the volunteers with me. It was truly such an important experience. And I also found out a lot about myself. I found out that I’m vastly interested in the history of New Orleans, and the geologic changes that have happened to shape the Louisianan coast. Every museum we went to, I’ve caught myself just lingering in the pre-colonial section, and following it all the way through to the late 1800s. The geomorphologic changes pre and post human colonization is amazing. And I would love to study more about how it continues to change in the future!

This was a place that I thought I would never visit growing up, and now it’s one of the most near and dear things to my heart. I want to say a special thank you to all of the girls (and guy) who came along on the trip, but more so to Sean Anderson, Donald Rodriguez, Dan Wakelee, Tom Huggins, Jon Lambrinos, and the IRA for making this trip possible every single year. I love you all!

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