An update from Tien, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student majoring in advertising and public relations: 

Greetings, fellow friends! Although Spring Break is long gone, I wanted to take a second to share with y’all the magic of New Orleans.

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An item on my SMU bucket list has definitely been to attend an Alternative Breaks trip. I came into the experience expecting to do just service, but left the experience with a slew of inside jokes, friendly smiles, and a larger appreciation for the luxuries that I possess in my life. Our group was diverse, with an array of leadership positions, majors, and grades. I imagine the Commons system to be somewhat similar to this group of people.

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Our group spent a week working with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, Louisiana. Almost 9 years after Hurricane Katrina, many people are still struggling to rebuild their homes along with their lives. St. Bernard Project was started in order to help folks who were victims of contractor fraud, or lacked the funds necessary to rebuild their homes. SMU got the wonderful opportunity to spend a week working on Ms. Vera’s house. She was so sweet! She made our 5 am mornings worth it. Seeing her smiling face and her genuine happiness that somebody cared enough to help her rebuild her home was inspiring. We spent the majority of our time mudding, sanding, and putting up drywall. Luckily, by the end of April, Ms. Vera will finally be moved back into her home after 8 years of waiting.

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 No trip to New Orleans is complete without a trip through the French Market and Bourbon Street. Since we finished working by 1 everyday, the group decided to make the most of our time here. The culture and the people in New Orleans were so welcoming and friendly. The first place we stopped was Café Du Monde. It wasn’t our last time. Over the 6 days we were there, many of us couldn’t resist stopping in for a delicious snack. New Orleans truly has no other comparison. I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to the inhabitants. They deserved it.

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