I Got the Blues for New Orleans

The 10 days that were spent in New Orleans were nothing but good times with great people. Unfortunately, it has been 4 days since I was last in NOLA and seem to be cherishing every minute that I had there as it stretches into memory. From Jackson Square in the French quarter where you could walk for days looking at all the art and listening to the unique cultural and musical gumbo that is played there to the swampy forested wetlands where we laid out transects and identified plant species to characterize the health of the swamp ecosystem.

The culture that NOLA brings to the United States is unique in my experience. It is filled with people from all different origins. The food (which is spicier then I was expecting) is a culinary gumbo, unique to the New Orleans/coastal Louisiana area. We sampled a range of eatings from the Po’ Boys to crayfish (aka crawkfish) boils we gleefully gulped down. The food in New Orleans will give any traveler the spicy kick they are needing and sensory backdrop to their NOLA experience. Another important aspect to the city life is the music. John Boutte and Irvin Mayfield showed us what it really means to jazz it up New Orleans style. As they (and so many others) played, their soul sung out with multitudes of experiences accumulated over years of triumph and tragedy living in NOLA.

From the city to the swamps the experience was amazing. Professor Anderson worked us hard in the swamps. Cutting down blackberry and identifying every plant in each little transect. After days of doing this in combination with sleep deprivation I realized that what I was doing for NOLA was crucial to keeping this city alive. We the students of CSUCI are one of few groups that are actively monitoring bottomland hardwood forests since Hurricane Katrina. Understanding the health of these wetlands is key as these swamps are the last natural wind and storm surge buffer to prevent natural disasters from destroying all that human life and culture in NOLA (not to mention the intrinsic value of such systems).  The people of New Orleans were all very thankful for what we did and that touched the deepest parts of my heart. Knowing that what we did over our Spring Break can and will contribute in some way to potentially helping save the city and many other people in the surrounding areas made all the difference. I would go back and do it all over again. This trip was the most rewarding experience I have had in my college life.

Thank you Dr. Sean Anderson for bringing me along on this fun adventure and introducing me to everyone that you knew in NOLA. This trip was honestly a fun and memorable service learning experience.





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