Hey NOLA 2011 Crew Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 

Hey Everyone!

My name is Marina-Christina Papadimitirou and I’m in my graduating year @ Ryerson University majoring in Early Childhood Education. I have a passion for teaching and working with children. I currently work full-time as a Registered Early Childhood Educator at one of the Upper Canada Childcare Centres as Senior Preschool Teacher (in other words a Kindergarten Teacher).

I’m extremely thrilled to be given this opportunity to participate in the New Orleans Experience (Thank you Pascal and Tanya). When I first heard about NOLA, I was in Homelessness in Canadian Society last semester and learned more about hurricane Katrina and BP oil spill devastations and the fact that people down there are still affected with what happened. During this class I was thinking it would be such a great opportunity to go on this journey to New Orleans and be part of this Community Development Course and make a difference while collaborating with various interdisciplinary students and most importantly working as a team in order to achieve/do something so great.

A little about me; is I grew up in East York. I love to dance (Greek dance especially), sing, play sports (such as soccer, tennis, volleyball and badminton), skate, run, read and travel.

Last, but not least I officially finally blogged for the first time ever and I look forward to getting to know everyone and hearing their stories. I can’t wait until our classes start and of course our journey in May to New Orleans.




Hey Everyone ! Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 


I’m Sarah, and am in my second year at Ryerson University. I’m studying social work, which is a four year program, and am really enjoying it. I think of myself as an empathetic and caring person, which could be why I chose social work. I applied to this program because, while studying last year, my sociology professor discussed Hurricane Katrina in class. I learned a lot, most of all I was dumb founded when I learned that the government has an obligation to maintain the levees that surround New Orleans, yet the government turned its back which resulted in such catastrophe.

Something interesting about myself is that I’ve never flown before, this will be the first time. I’m eager to participate in this New Orleans experience, to meet new people, to experience something new, and most of all to help those in need- a sampler of what my future career in social work may hold.

See you all soon,

Sincerely Sarah.

Ken McDonald Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 


My name is Ken McDonald and I’m studying Environmental Studies at York. I heard about the New Orleans experience in one of my classes and became very interested. I think this is a great opportunity for students of various backgrounds to work together to achieve something great. I am honoured that I was chosen to partake in this experience and will put everything I have into it, so that I can take as much as possible out of it.

I first fell in love with New Orleans at a young age when my dad let me watch the James Bond movie Live or Let Die and I became fascinated with Cajun culture. There was this awesome funeral procession where it seemed like everyone marched down the street playing real somber music until the casket was dropped off at the cemetery and then once it was dropped off the somber music turned into like this Dixie-land styled jazz music and it was this huge party, it was pretty awesome.

Studying environmental problems and social inequalities is interesting, but so far it has all been theoretical, I really want the opportunity to be able to apply some of my skills I have gained in a hands on approach. I also want to help the people of New Orleans (who have been incredibly strong) rebuild their homes and communities.

Thanks for this great opportunity,

Ken McDonald

Hey Everyone (My apologies for being last :( ) Tuesday, Jan 18 2011 

My name is Remo and I’m currently in my last year in the Child and Youth Care program. I am delaying graduation for this trip because I can only imagine the emmense impact that such a trip will have on my life and my future, as soon as I heard about such a class I knew that I wasn’t going to miss it for anything.

I have lived all my life in the neighbourhood of Regent Park and it’s one of the major reason that I have decided to dedicate my life to working with at risk children and youth. Having experienced many of the similar issues that the youth I work with have been through, I want to continue to give back to my community which played a major role in turning my life around. What better way to hone these skills then going to New Orleans and doing whatever I can in my power to help those in need just like the way I help out my own community. I can’t wait for the trip to begin just like everyone else 🙂

As you can see by my picture, I’m Asian but I can’t do math to save my life LOL But I have to say, I am very good with computers and many others things that isn’t stereotypical? 😛

P.S and no, I wasn’t “New to Ontario” during the time the picture was taken heh.

………………… Monday, Jan 17 2011 

Hey Guys,

My name is Kristin and I am a second year Social work student at Ryerson. I am in the first session. Things you should know about me; I don’t know anything about blogs. I don’t eat meat because I am a fan of animals and I don’t think I need to eat them to maintain a healthy balanced diet…don’t worry, I don’t judge you meat eaters. I enjoy getting tattoos and I have lots. I have a horse and I am obsessed with him and any horse related activities. I live-in/run a group home for kids and have been doing this for the last 5 years so which has not left much time for traveling. This position has been a rewarding and at times a very challenging endeavor over the years. It has given me many insights into different circumstances and obstacles that can affect people’s lives and their chances to build prosperous futures for themselves and their families. I have also learned a great deal about myself in the process.

I wanted to be apart of this trip because I like to help people. I have always been fascinated and saddened with what happened as a result of Katrina. New Orleans has faced many significant challenges both environmentally and economically in recent years. The tragedies that the people of New Orleans have had to work through struck a chord with me and I am looking forward to the opportunity to provide positive assistance to them wherever possible. A little help can go a long way and even a small contribution can make a lasting difference if enough of us get involved.

I am super pumped to go to New Orleans for this experience and to meet all of you who I will be traveling with and working beside while helping out. This is an opportunity that I know I will not forget.

Until we meet, take care,


Monday, Jan 17 2011 

Hello All! My name is Shauna James I am in my final year at York University majoring in Environmental Studies. One of the most important aspects of environmentalism to me is environmental oppression, focusing on environmental justice issues, racism and breaking down socio-economic barriers. I was in my environmental disasters class when Pascal came to talk about this experience with us and I knew it was something I had to do! For the past four years I have been reading and listening to lectures of the injustices that many people face in the world and it is just the right time to get out the classroom and put what I have learned to work. There is no better form of education then to learn while living and working in the environments I want to help create change. That is why being apart of this program is so important to me. I also have a passion for Theatre and I am pursuing a certificate in a Community Arts Program, which requires students to develop a community-based production that engages social issues through artistic process. Currently I am working with a Toronto theatre artist developing social justice and leadership workshops for high school students in the GTA. 
I also enjoy cooking and have begun creating a record of my favourite family recipes. I am a firm believer that everyone should have access to healthy foods and as I am a new learner of food issues and food accessibility. I hope to share the knowledge that I have of food with others.

I am so excited to begin this experience and meet everyone!


Mississauga to NOLA 2011 Monday, Jan 17 2011 

Hi Everyone!!!

PLEASE excuse my tardiness… Tanya is very right! Complete instructions given in an email the moment you get it or it will definitely get lost in your inbox 🙂

The 411:

My name is Shakera “Dance and Dingolay” Martin and I am currently at Ryerson University completing my final year in the Occupational Health and Safety program. Despite my veteran experience on facebook, I have not blogged before; CINT 912 is already helping me to develop a new skill.

I bet many of you raised an eyebrow at the “Dance and Dingolay” component in my name. Well, my top three favourite things in no particular order is dancing, helping other people, and EATING! When you get to know me better you will see these three things surface very often in my actions or conversations.

Helping Others – I am pretty sure that I developed this passion by the teachings of my mother. We both have very similar personality traits which could possibly be attributed to our Capricorn Zodiac! Nonetheless, I take pride in being a support system to those that need it… hence my field of study! When I discovered that I had the opportunity to reduce the level of danger in the workforce and prevent life-changing injuries, such as the one my mother developed while working at her company, I began my University studies at Ryerson. I am even more excited that I will be able to complete my final degree requirement doing what I love in New Orleans! I found out about CINT 912 from several colleagues last year who have said nothing but great things about this course and how it impacted their lives. I look forward to every aspect of this trip and cannot help but highly anticipate the lessons, the people, and the overall experience that WE ALL will get to embrace.

Eating – Food will be the end of me but I am very okay with that. If I had $5 left in my bank account, there is a 97% chance that it would be spent on food! Get ready folks, I plan to do a lot of cooking in NOLA 😉

Dance/Performing – I was that child that was bopping around since I could hardly walk so of course my mother was encouraged to enroll me in dance lessons and the passion continued until adulthood. Although I currently am not training, I still dance every chance I get whether it be with Ryerson’s Urban Hip Hop Union, at a bus stop, or most frequently with ~Carnival ~ inspired events… hence my current nickname! Carnival season usually kicks off in February on the island of Trinidad and Tobago. The season is filled with a whole new list of soca music, costumes, and positive energy. My friends and I have a tradition where we assign me a nickname based on our favourite single of the season… this year it is Dance and Dingolay… LISTEN TO THE TRACK HERE I have also posted a photo of me in costume last year!

I am very excited to be working with all of you (especially those who are apart of the SECOND SESSION). I do encourage everyone to stay updated in our groups facebook page so we can get the fund raising initiatives underway. I posted details on a funding opportunity that will require some of you to help me do a presentation. Check it out ASAP 🙂

See you all February 3!

One Love

Better late (and perhaps last) than never Saturday, Jan 15 2011 

Salutations my friends

My name is Jordan Thomas Ruediger and I am in my third year majoring in social justice and peace studies (SJPS) at King’s/UWO. Before moving to London 3 years ago I lived and grew up in the small town of Stratford. To be honest I dont know where I want to be or what I want to be doing once my time at university comes to an end, but I at least know I’m on the right track with SJPS.

When my nose isn’t found in school books I like to spend my time playing guitar, writing the odd song here and there, skateboarding in the summer, and spending as much time as possible escaping to northern Ontario for camping, fishing, snowshoeing etc…. I suppose I could be described as one of those “outdoorsy” folk.

As far as this New Orleans experience goes, I cannot put into words how excited I am to meet and work with all of you. The overwhelming devastation that this community has suffered is absolutely heart breaking. On the other hand, the feeling I get from seeing our group here dedicated to a wonderful cause like this is absolutely heart warming. I’m looking forward to visiting a new place, meeting new people, learning as much as possible, and most importantly getting involved with much-needed community development, getting my hands dirty and making a difference.

On that note I hope you enjoyed my brief blog and I’ll be seeing you all soon.


-J. Ruediger

TOON2NOLA Friday, Jan 14 2011 


My name is Arezoo (R-zoo) and I’m a 3rd year Sociology student at Ryerson University and also a first time blogger.  I will be participating in the second session of the course.

I would like to say that I have a tremendous amount of experience in helping others and a vast knowledge on the relationships that exist between social and political structures, but the truth of the matter is that I just don’t.  This is partly the reason I applied to this course – to not only get a better understanding of the  current issues but a first hand experience in helping a community rebuild not only their homes but securing a future.  I too had a hard time deciding whether to apply, mostly because I am afraid of leaving home.  However, a friend of mine recommended this experience so I took a chance and lo and behold, got accepted 🙂

Coming from a neighbourhood, such as Regent Park, what I can say is that creating a solid foundation is the most important step when it comes to ensuring a brighter tomorrow.  It took my family 5 years and many sweat equity hours before we moved into our new home from Habitat for Humanity, that being said, I maintain a soft spot for my old community.  Being uprooted, placed in a dank and creepy motel room with my siblings for what seemed to be a lifetime, prior to the move was not what I considered to be an ideal situation.  But then again, things have to get worse before they can get better.

What I look forward to the most on this trip is getting a chance to help with the oil spill.  It boggles my mind how conspicuous consumption and excessive desire for material wealth can lead to horrendous amounts of garbage which in turn can result in environmental disasters.  I am neither an expert nor an exception but I believe that being aware and motivated are vital in the quest for a healthier planet.

I am happy to be stepping out of my comfort zone, exploring a different culture and getting a chance to apply myself in the real world.  I’m nervous, excited, and grateful for this opportunity and I hope to learn as much as possible in the weeks to come.

Reflections by a student from 2010’s group Friday, Jan 14 2011 

When I think back about this trip months later it appears so fresh in the mind. Many days I wake up wishing to be back in NOLA. Wishing to go back into the streets with the boys and gallivant until the weeeeee hours in the morning. Wishing I could go back and check up on Mr. Barnet and his house.  So many unanswered questions rush into my head when the thought of NOLA arises. Some more happy than sad and vise versa at other times. This trip is truly an amazing experience. for those who are privileged enough to go with the next group, you will not be disappointed. “Y’all” are truly about to have a memorable time. Pascal and Tanya are amazing professors so consider yourselves lucky! Work hard when you are down there! Don’t y’all dare be lazy! And when the body starts to yearn for help just remember why you are doing it and I promise the pain will vanish. Best Wishes to the new group!  and for those who don’t get in..Ah so di ting set up sumtime!
-Jason Miller

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