Briar McBoyle:) Friday, Dec 31 2010 

Hello there Folks,

My name is Briar McBoyle and I am so excited about this experience. I’ve always enjoyed travelling although my traveling experience is limited to Canada I’ve been across the country and loved every moment of it. These travelling experiences are why I chose to go into the Geographic Analysis program at Ryerson. Although I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my future I know it will involve traveling, the environment and helping people in some way. This course covers all of the above which makes it ever more exciting!

I am so pleased I get the opportunity to go to New Orleans and do my part to assist with the tragedies that struck the beautiful area. When I heard about Hurricane Katrina all I wanted to do was go down there and help rebuild the city, I felt money was not enough and that my contribution physically would have a much more drastic impact, but alas that was not an option for me at the time. Luckily I now can do exactly what I dreamed of doing 5 years ago!

As for me, although I am a dreadful singer, be prepared to hear me sing my heart out to Broadway classics and guaranteed, there will be dancing! I also enjoy listening to people’s life stories. I’ve yet to meet a dull person and from the other blogs it does not like this record will be broken. I can not wait to meet everyone more so those in the second group since we will be together for two weeks.


Caitlin Villeneuve – first post Tuesday, Dec 21 2010 

Hello Everyone!

My name is Caitlin Villeneuve and I am a 4th year student at King’s University
College in London. I am with the second group in May and I couldn’t be more
excited! This will be my last undergrad course Ever!! I thought it was a specifically
rad way to end my undergraduate career. I am taking Social Justice and Peace
Studies and Political Science. I have a strong passion and empathy for hearing
and experiencing the plight of those whom have experienced oppression and
discrimination. Being a privileged middle-class white woman, all I can do is listen
and use my voice to represent their struggle and fight for social justice, and I
welcome opportunities to do that.

I sent an application in without really knowing what this trip is all about! I
saw an opportunity to go to New Orleans in May and I jumped on it! I have a serious
love for traveling and diving in to new experiences, and due to school and all that
jazz, the traveling has been pushed aside – so again, really looking forward to this
trip and to meeting everyone! I am based out of London with two other participants
from the second leg of the trip, but I’m excited to get to know more about all of you
in February!
My interest for this trip lies in post-disaster community development – not
only the physical construction of buildings and houses, but how the community
unites and moves forward together – the healing – both, emotionally and physically.
I am constantly inspired by the resilience of united human spirit in the face of
this unjust system, selectively beneficial to keep the rich richer and make the
poor poorer. I will never be able to say, “I know how you feel” and truly know
from pragmatic knowledge. However, I can say I’ve seen it, I’ve witnessed it, and
then I can share it. This is what this trip is about for me: bearing witness to a
heartbreaking, avoidable disaster and sharing in the fervor to rebuild, reconnect,
and rejuvenate New Orleans’ spirit, community, and heart.

See you all in February!!


Aryan E Saturday, Dec 18 2010 

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the inconvenience but I was not familiar with this blog. My secret is out not high tech at all. My name is Aryan and I am a fourth year Psychology student and minoring in Sociology at Ryerson University.



I am very passionate about helping individuals and making a positive impact on peoples’ lives. My aim is to go for my Masters in Community Psychology or Health Psychology.

Outsides of school I enjoy playing sports such as soccer, snowboarding, yoga, swimming, water skiing, biking and rollerblading as a few examples. I love spending my time in Muskoka it is very relaxing and enjoy boating. Family time is very important to me.

I am very excited about this opportunity to be able to go to New Orleans. I am interested about community development and thought this would be a great chance.

Introductions, Rochelle Jones Monday, Dec 13 2010 

Hello everyone,

My name is Rochelle Jones and I’m a second year Psychology student at Ryerson University. I returned to Toronto two years ago, after having lived abroad for a few years with my boyfriend. We now live in Toronto together and absolutely love it. Though I am kept pretty busy between work and school, I always make time to read, cook and get out to explore the city with good company. In the future I aim to work with handicapped and disabled individuals, but to be honest, I have yet to decide the direction in which I want to follow.

I have a strong passion for travel and have lived in many different countries. I feel that truly traveling involves living somewhere, completely immersing yourself with the people and the culture. This trip to New Orleans offers that chance, as well as the opportunity to better the lives of others by helping to rebuild a community. The impact of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill was horrific and to be able to participate in ameliorating the living situation of those most affected is something I look forward to very much. While experiencing life in New Orleans, I hope to meet incredible people and accomplish incredible goals.

Cassie Johson Monday, Dec 13 2010 

Hi, my name is Cassie. I am a third year social work student at ryerson. I am in the second session of the NOLA trip. I am so excited to meet new people and get involved. In the fall semester I took an International Social Work course and it got me very interested in international affairs. When this opportunity came up I was so excited and knew it would be something I would enjoy. I took this course to gain experience at the international level, but also because it gives me a chance to put knowledge into practice. You can only learn so much in a classroom but our experiences count for so much more. Aside from that, I think it would be a great way to meet new people and see a different part of the world.
I am from a small town just north of Kingston, Ontario. I am a huge sports fan and grew up playing hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer and baseball as well as track and field. Of course, hockey is my all time favourite sport and my favourite team is Detroit. Aside from sports I really love to travel whether its a small road trip or somewhere a little further. I havent been too far or that manyplaces but some upcoming trips, including NOLA is going to change that in the future. I look so farward to meeting everyone!

Paulina Kubara Intro Thursday, Dec 9 2010 

Hi everyone!
My name is Paulina Kubara. I’m a 4th year student pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Anthropology at York University. I can’t wait to go to New Orleans to help out and meet some new people! I’m particularly excited because I’m very interested in environmental disasters and the effects that they have on people and communities, as well as the politics involved in disasters. Throughout my studies at York, I have learned to adopt a holistic outlook towards life and always try to look at every perspective. That is why I am excited to go to New Orleans and get an understanding of the effects of Hurricane Katrina from the point of view of the people who experienced it.

I love to travel and am eager to experience New Orleans’ unique culture, especially the food and music! I’m open to everything New Orleans has to offer and hope to learn a lot from this trip. I know that this will be a memorable experience and look forward to meeting all of you.

Nancy Tran Wednesday, Dec 8 2010 

Hey Everyone!

My cousin and I (on left) at the 2010 Olympics!

I’m Nancy and I’m in my fourth year in International Studies & Women’s Studies and I’m also getting a certificate in Sexuality Studies at York U. I’m super excited for this trip to New Orleans and can’t wait to meet all of you! I heard rumours about this trip last year and I’m glad I happened to meet someone recently who went on the trip last year. My passion is really in international development and travelling. I’ve traveled to the US, Australia, Vietnam, and Thailand where I volunteered at a children’s home for a month 2 summers ago. It was such an amazing trip I knew that that was what I wanted to do and I can’t wait to get the chance to help in any that I can in New Orleans. I also hope that I can learn a lot about what’s going on down there from a first hand experience and get a chance to experience the culture there because I’ve heard such amazing stories! I’ve also moved around a lot as a kid (probably what triggered my love for travelling). I’ve lived all over the GTA, in Ottawa, and even lived in Vancouver for a bit. I love to volunteer too, I use to volunteer for the World Wildlife Fund but right now I’m tutoring at the North York Women’s Shelter and volunteering at the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line (SASSL) at York.

A little bit about me: I a huge movie and tv show fanatic! I play the trombone and the piano although I haven’t played either in a while. I love going to random rock concerts and comedy shows when I have the money. And my secret pleasure is reading trashy chick lit.

Shannon K Tuesday, Dec 7 2010 

Hello! My name is Shannon Kaloczi…

I’m in my third year of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson. I grew up in Chatham, Ontario, but have been living in Toronto for just over two years now. I’ve taken interest in a lot of things locally and have seen that Toronto has a lot to offer. I’m interested in community & international development as well as social issues, public art and food security.  I’m very excited to have an experience so related. I applied to go to New Orleans in 2010 but ran into some difficulty and was unable to go, which makes me even more excited to be going in 2011!   🙂

Aside from school I intern with an organization called STEPS Initiative (, and do some volunteering with festivals in Toronto, with Food Share, and with The Stop. Aside from that I guess I’m pretty into music, and always enjoy listening to some good “indie”, folk, acoustic, jazz, or electronic, and love going to shows.

I went on a field trip to the UK in October and had the experience of a lifetime. It was my first time being outside of Canada essentially (I’ve only been to about two cities in Michigan) and I learned so much, and now I can’t stop planning places I want to go. I’m really looking forward to experiencing New Orleans, to learning more about Hurricane Katrina, and seeing first-hand the impacts it had on the city. I’m happy we all get to take part in making a difference, and I cannot wait to gain some construction skills and meet a group of new people.

Mandi’s Introductory Blog (first-timer!) Tuesday, Dec 7 2010 

Greetings everyone! My name is Mandi Torris and I have been selected to go on the first leg of the NOLA 2011 trip, at the beginning of May. I am super pumped for this experience and I can tell this winter is going to draaaaag on and on while I patiently wait for spring to arrive!

A little bit about me: I’m a second-year psychology student at Ryerson, and I have my Addictions Intervention Counselling diploma from a college in Barrie. My future career path will be working with women and their families who are affected by addictions and mental health problems. I live in (beautiful?) downtown Toronto with my wonderful partner, but I’m a country mouse at heart, and was raised in small towns all my life. I’ve spent most of my life in either Ontario or Alberta, but have never traveled outside North America (yet!).

I am always on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities to challenge myself and push my boundaries, so when I heard about this trip I knew I had to apply. I am really looking forward to meeting new people, working cooperatively towards a common goal, and learning even more about myself in the process. I think that being immersed in a new social milieu is the best way to learn about it, so I am eager to meet the people of New Orleans who were/are directly affected by the hurricane and oil spill and to hear their stories and help them out.

Keisha Mack Tuesday, Dec 7 2010 

Heeeeeeeeeey! My name is Keisha McIntosh. I am a 20 year old 3rd year Social Work student at Ryerson.

Hmm where to start…  Well I like holding hands and long walks on the beach… I’m kidding. I’ve always had an interest in helping others. I’ve done volunteer work with Pathways in Regent Park where I was a mentor for the youth who participated in the program, and right now I  volunteer at Seven Oakes Home For the Aged, it’s a retirement home just up the street from my house.  I’m also currently doing my third year field placement at Scarborough Housing Help Centre in the Streets to Homes department. Basically I work with people who were previously homeless for a period of time, and have now been housed, a part of my job there is to make sure they sustain their housing (i.e. doing rent checks, advocating on their behalf) and don’t end up back on the streets, as well as linking them with resources in the community they may need.

Well that’s just a little bit about me, feel free to add me on FB at Keisha Mack…however I deactivated my account temporarily to focus on exams, but it’ll be up and running again soon 🙂

(Ps. Just hit me with a little message saying you’re from the course).

Why am I taking this course?

Well I first heard about it from one of my classmates last school year. But by the time I heard about it, it was too late…I know devastating right? I wasn’t sure if it was a one time thing or if it was going to be every year, and thank goodness it is cause now I have the opportunity to take part. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about the New Orleans trip..everyone kept saying how the experience was just sooo surreal. I’m so excited to have the chance to be a part of a project like this. Like I mentioned earlier in my blog I’ve always taken pride in being an active member of my community, but have never done anything on an international level such as this.

What I hope to gain from this experience is not just the chance to say “Yea I went to New Orleans and helped rebuild houses”, but that WE as a  team were part of something AMAZING. We helped to make a real difference in people’s lives, and in doing so I grew more as a person, and as a future social worker.

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