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Archive for June, 2010

I just experienced a whirl-wind of an adventure volunteering in New Orleans. That is why I haven’t written for so long. New Orleans is a place I have been dying to go for longer than I can remember and I couldn’t be happier with my volunteer, cultural, and French Quarter experience. I had a check list ready before I arrived down there and amazingly I checked everything off of that list before I left the Bayou.

Probably my favorite thing overall about being in New Orleans, or NOLA as everyone else calls it, was the humidity. Everyday and night I could feel the density in the air and the heat circulating around me. It made me feel alive and like I was on vacation all the time.

Our work week lasted Tuesday through Saturday where we would arrive on location at 7:45 a.m. to begin work building houses with Habitat for Humanity. I had the chance to experience nearly every step of building a house from beginning the foundation, to roofing a house, to caulking windows, to instaling insulation underneath a home.

At the end of every work day I was covered in sweat, sand and some sort of foreign material like paint or cement. By the end of the six weeks my body was feeling the strenuous work and sunlight I had been putting it through. This round made me more confident in my physical strength, and how hard I can push myself in extreme conditions.

We were lucky to have a three-bedroom, one bathroom home only one mile from the French Quarter in the eighth ward. The night we dropped in there I was nervous about our safety, especially after hearing that the team before us was rushed out one evening after a drive-by-shooting happened on the corner.

As days went by we found all of our neighbors were incredibly friendly and interested in where we were from and why we were there. The St. Roch park was a block away, so we had easy access to PT whenever we wanted. Occasionally when we were at the park doing PT neighborhood kids would approach us and ask to join our relay races, push-ups and sit-ups. We were happy to include them and learn more about the neighborhood through their eyes.

We skipped into the quarter on a regular basis to hear live jazz music, eat beignets and creole delights and watch the chaos of Bourbon street. The swamp tour and levee tour we arranged were two absolutely amazing experiences. On the levee tour we learned so much about how Katrina affected the surrounding communities and many locals believe Katrina was a man-made disaster because of how poorly and ineffectively the levees held up. It is nice to be back in a bed here in Perryville, but I miss NOLA!

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