This winter break, instead of immediately running home to hibernate after a roller coaster of an exam week, I decided to go on an alternative break trip. It turned out to be a pretty wise decision, because this trip left me with an experience that I will not soon forget.
The SMU group volunteered with Phoenix of New Orleans (PNOLA), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the recovery of the residents of Lower Mid-City New Orleans and its surrounding neighborhoods by rebuilding quality affordable housing and by developing the community assets necessary for a vital neighborhood. We were split into groups. My group worked on finishing up sheet rocking a house for a family of four. I figured it would be a lot of hard work, but in reality I did not have a clue about the amount of labor that actually goes into building a home! I left the trip was such a great respect for construction workers, and the many people that volunteer their time in an effort to help others.
We finished building a closet the first day (Yes, it really took us an entire day to build a closet), and at the time, it felt like one of the great accomplishments of my life! By the end of the week we completed a hallway (3 walls) and a living room wall. I think the coolest part was actually getting to see all the work that we did. Often when you are working on an issue it may feel like you are not getting anything accomplished since you are not witnessing an immediate change.
It was amazing to personally observe the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on its victims, rather than just relying on news outlets. It provided the entire group with a new and more human perspective of the situation.
Overall, I absolutely LOVED the trip. I got to help a family, meet some amazing people, and take in the culture of an amazing city like New Orleans. What more could I ask for?
Class of 2013