ACE and Alternative Breaks 2012 in NOLA

J. Michael Cruz, director of the Dedman College Center for Academic-Community Engagement (ACE), is participating in the Alternative Breaks trip to New Orleans in December. Participants in the trip, which is co-sponsored by ACE and the office of Community Engagement and Leadership, are working with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. You can follow the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SMU.ACE

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A day off in the French Quarter

In Jackson Square

Day 3 in NOLA is Sunday, and this is our one day to tour the city and enjoy ourselves by taking in the sights rather than doing service. Some of the group headed off to church in the morning, and then by about 10am we were headed to the French Quarter.  Our first stop was Café Du Monde for some beignets and coffee.

Watching videos of Hurricane Katrina

After that we took a trip to the Louisiana State Museum in Jackson Square. This museum has a pretty extensive exhibit documenting what took place during Hurricane Katrina – from the levy breaks, to the emergency response, to the firsthand personal accounts. To see photos and watch video illustrating the extent of damage and devastation was heart-breaking. It makes our efforts with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans all the more real.

After the museum, students split off into smaller groups for about four hours of lunch and shopping in the French Quarter. Students purchased souvenirs and holiday gifts. At the end of the day the van carried back to the hostel: Mardi Gras masks, pralines, French Quarter street signs, New Orleans art, jewelry, beignet mix, clothing, pins, coffee mugs, and music. And while we had planned to head back to the hostel at 6pm, our time was cut somewhat short by a rainstorm.

Our communal dinner consisted of spaghetti and French bread, prepared by Dan and Monica. Two other students had kitchen-cleaning duties. After dinner and a 20-minute break, we had our reflection time, which consisted of an exercise called THEN/NOW. We wrote five words or phrases indicating what we thought of this trip prior to getting here and what we think of it now – after working for two days and visiting the museum. We closed with each of us writing a question that we feel remains unanswered, putting them in a bag, and then randomly drawing them out and discussing as a group.

After that it was lights out for our fourth day in town, and our third day at the worksite.

You can also follow ACE on Facebook.

Beignets and coffee

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