It’s hard to believe I’ve been here already for 11 days. Time has passed by so quickly now that I think about it. But that’s great, though. It means I’m having a lot of fun!

The issues NOLA faces on a regular basis finally hit me today while working on an alternative project. I had the opportunity to work with the St. Bernard Project on an assignment that didn’t deal with a house wrecked by Hurricane Katrina. Instead, this was a rent-to-own house that had been abandoned about 5 months ago. The house was part of another organization that helps people who have been in trouble with the law get back on their feet by training them in the service industry. Back at Ryerson, I have worked with similar organizations through service learning options and extracurriculars. But this organization really touched me. As the group of us took the remaining belongings out of the house, I couldn’t help but feel the presence of the family there. It was a much different feeling than any of the other houses I’ve worked on. We all realized that Hurricane Katrina did wipe out so many houses in this area, but that a house was not the single factor that held families together. There have been a lot of other social and political problems here in New Orleans that have been affecting the families, and Hurricane Katrina just added to the mess.

On a happier note, though, I have been having an amazing time in New Orleans! We have got to travel a little bit. Went to Mississippi and swam in the Gulf of Mexico (where I did not get burnt, thank you very much!). We’ve seen lots of Bourbon Street and Frenchman, and heard wonderful street music playing each time we go. The culture here is very different from Toronto, but it’s awesome and a place I would definitely love to return to some day.

The thought of this culture being affected by the oil spill is a bit scary. To think that I’m going to be visiting this area and seeing some of these sites (like the Gulf of Mexico and the swamps) for the last time in quite some years makes me sad, yet happy enough that I’m getting to see them before they’re wrecked.

Only four very short days left of NOLA! I’m sad to go home, but I am excited to have a normal body temperature again!

– Julea

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