Hi, my name is Onur Yilmaz and I am not sure what is expected for this blog entry. I was told to write about myself. So, I am going to approach this as if it were a title sequence to a movie. If you are not familiar with what a title sequence is, refer to this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaLDyrun_Cc Ok so maybe I set the bar a bit high, my life is nowhere as interesting as Frank Abagnale Jr.’s. I haven’t conned banks for millions in fake checks, disguised as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor or a lawyer while being chased by two-time academy award winner Tom Hanks (by the way if you didn’t watch the link you’re probably now hopelessly lost). Ok, so, favorite color – blue, favorite food – sardines, and I love fine scotch and rum, not so much vodka anymore. I am in my last year of York University. I expect to graduate with an Honors Degree in Urban and Regional Environments: Analysis, Planning and Design from the Faculty of Environmental Studies this fall.  This is my fifth year in university; I have bounced around from faculty to faculty until I found the Faculty of Environmental Studies. If you want to get to know more about me, you can always creepily, but yet socially acceptably Facebook stalk me or just introduce yourself. Jokes are great icebreakers, not knock-knock jokes though; I don’t like those, so a moratorium on those.

My knowledge concerning New Orleans and hurricane Katrina is limited to a few class lectures, news reports, and a couple of documentaries.  I remember first hearing about Katrina; it wasn’t until some days later. It was frosh week and no one had a TV and most of us hadn’t figured out how to connect our computers to York’s internet hub. So everyone was pretty much cut out from the outside world.  When I heard about Katrina and heard that it happened four days ago I was thinking to myself like “the US probably has everything under control, they probably had rapid emergency response and rebuilding will be swift, after all it is the world’s wealthiest nation”.  But now its five years later and people are still rebuilding, and I am thankful that I am getting an opportunity to contribute to the reconstruction process. Before Katrina, disaster loss in the US was measured in terms of dollar values, not lives lost and populations displaced. This field course permits an invaluable opportunity to talk to those people who have lost family members, friends and had tolerated slow state-response, loss of vital infrastructure and property; so that we can put into context the humanitarian and social justice effects of Katrina.  I also look forward to experiencing firsthand the post-disaster restructuring of urban space and its effects on neighborhood character. Although it is difficult to identify the benefits I would gain from the field course I would hope that the main advantages would be invaluable and unique experiences with Camp Hope, residents of New Orleans and with the volunteers.