Like all of the blogs I must first tell everyone how wonderful my experience was down South. I have met some of the most wonderful people, not just in group (although each member is a gem in their own natural way), but also in the community. The kindness and welcoming of New Orleans (NOLA) was really incredible. When I came back I had to take the subway with my huge luggage, no one helped me down the stairs or even opened a door for me. Instead several people expressed their anger at being stuck behind my large misfortune. The whole time I trekked up stairs and through heavy doors all I could think of was this would never happen in NOLA. I’d probably not even have to lift a finger.
However it was not just the southern hospitality that I brought back with me it’s more the experiences. My friends and family can not get me to shut up about my time down south; it was such an impactful experience. Seeing how almost six years after the storm there is still so much work to be done really bothered me. At least twice a year some tragic event happens in the world and for about a week the whole world cares about it and perhaps donates some money or a canned good and then soon enough some other disaster takes over their mind whether it be across the world or in their own home and they forget. This experience has made me think about all of the disasters in the world. At least New Orleans is in one of the most powerful countries in the world and therefore they have a better chance at rejuvenation. Yet there are so many mud slides and hurricanes around the world that do not have the same support that NOLA does and if this is how a high income country responds, these other areas are in serious trouble.
This thought has been bothering me since I came back to my safe and natural-disaster-free home in Canada (touch wood). I have been thinking hard about my experience, especially the abandoned homes, lack of businesses and important buildings like schools or grocery stores and the racism, because of this I have been trying to think of something I can do but instead these thoughts have given me a feeling of absolute helplessness. Which than got me thinking about one of the people we talked to who went to another country to make a difference while his own community had just been 20 feet under water, I thought about my own home and the issues that we have here in Toronto and how perhaps I should spend time getting people off the street and above poverty level. My friend made a good point that although I may not be able to save the world literally just listening to a person makes a huge difference in their life and may indeed be a way to help the world one step at a time. If everyone can help their own community and the people in it maybe that is the first step to a much happier world.
This experience has made me realize that whatever I do with my life it must involve helping people and I truly believe that everyone should experience and see what we saw down there. It gave me such perspective on how people are still very much affected by race, income and hurricane Katrina. I was really happy that I did a presentation for my community. They were all so shocked by what I had to say and about how the community is still suffering.
Thank you so much to both Tanya and Pascal. Not to mention my wonderful group and the welcoming community of New Orleans. Y’all changed my life.
– Briar McBoyle