I know we have done a lot in the past couple of days but after a long working day today we got the pleasure to meet with Tanya Harris. Wow, she is such a character. She was so funny, realistic yet strong, she spoke with real emotion and dedication. She was so amusing and I learned a lot but was also left with many questions and thoughts. She told us about her job working with ACORN as a community organizer, organizing for change. She told us about her experience with Hurricane Katrina and how she evacuated to Lafayette. She told us about her childhood community, facts about the parish and the ninth ward, the government and even stories about Brad Pitt. She talked a lot in a short amount of time which was very overwhelming, but I didn’t want her to stop! The whole time she was talking I was smiling and laughing quite a bit. At the same time I would also tear up at some points. I just could not stop thinking about what a great vibe she was giving off. She was so strong which made me sad because of how she experienced really bad things, I was envious how she could stay so optimistic, and how happy she seemed, and how she could make a room full of people all laugh. It was also sad for me because it made me think about all the people who are not as strong as she is and how they have to deal with similar situations in New Orleans. I guess seeing Tanya and how what happened did not seem to bring her down brought tears to my eyes in a joyful way.
When she told us the story about meeting Brad Pitt it made me angry and left with questions. Brad Pitt told the people of New Orleans to basically use him for his money to build homes that they envisioned for their community. At first I thought he has so much money anyways that he should be doing something good with it like helping victims of Katrina and I was happy he was putting it to good use. Then I thought well, why is this up to celebrities like him to help victims of Katrina, especially after almost six years. This should not be the case for residents and because it is the case, it is really up to the government to help people with their homes. To me it is kind of a bitter sweet idea. It is great that some people do have other resources such as celebrities, organizations, volunteers, and donations that they can rely on, but they should not need to. It essentially made me questions several things in regards to how this state is being run. Tanya Harris left me with two specific thoughts I will share. One, not being so keen on the government. Especially how they lied and how they continue to not really do anything to help those in need, and how there is belief that they purposely broke the levees to flood St. Bernard Parish and the Ninth Ward so the Hurricane would floor poor neighborhoods, not flood other areas in New Orleans that the government makes money from. The second, along with the rest of my experiences on this trip has me questioning my future and what I really want to do with it, hopefully advocating for change for those who need it in a more hand on ways.
Overall this trip has affected me in a positive way, I learned so much and am grateful for everyone who added to my experience, my fellow classmates and Tanya & Pascal. I hope the second group will enjoy it as much as I did.
Sad to leave –