Sunday, May 18, 2008

Broadmoor Fest and My Students

I am back in New Orleans this weekend with 25 student volunteers for the weekend. Our project—helping set up and work the Broadmoor Festival. Isn’t it nice to have power?  Anyway, we got in on Thursday night and will be heading back to Killeen on Monday. The students are in my annual Community Development course. It is my little contribution to making more people learn the story of Katrina and how New Orleans is recovering post-Katrina. There is no better place to study how to “develop” community than in a place that lost so much but has worked so hard to rebuild and recover.

You all know what makes New Orleans special. But for me, it is great to see others get it. It doesn’t take long for the students to begin commenting on what an incredible place this is. The variety and historical significance of the housing and buildings. The incredible food (we’ve had po-boys at Parkway, snoballs at Hansen’s, and dinner at Jacque-imos for example). The friendly and helpful people. The great music (I took them to Vaughan’s on Thursday night). The “free” lifestyle. Many of them “get it.” And, for a class this large, it is nice to see so many of them get it.

We worked the Broadmoor Fest as our service project for the trip. And, though some might say that having them work to help repair houses might have more significance, I would say that this has been the first time I have been able to help MY neighborhood with my students. And, given the comments by my friends who organized the event, we were much appreciated. It was great for me to see so many friends. The students got a chance to sit and talk with many residents about their struggles and joys in the recovery. I am really looking forward to reading their journals next week.

I will post more later, with pictures. It has been rather “exhausting” managing a group this size (at times, its like herding cats). But as I begin my walk through the Quarter today, I will let the sun and the river help me recover.

It’s all good.

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