Still seems like yesterday that I was in New Orleans waking up looking forward to the day and working my butt off to make a difference in the lives of others. Those days are the same as now as I currently am working in a residential setting for children with autism and other various disorders. Even though these work settings are very different, it still allows me to remain committed to helping those disenfranchised by society. Traveling to and from work means that I am leaving the heart of the city to the less populated areas around the GTA, I often look at the houses and think to myself ” back in New Orleans, these houses do not exist and I would think to myself, what if a disaster happened in this area, what damage would it cause and how fast would the Canadian government react. Riding on the bus to work also makes me realize how fortunate we really are to be basically disaster free thanks to the location of our city. We don’t have to worry about tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, drought etc and yet those living in the New Orleans area face those many times during the year but they still remain. That shows so much courage in my eyes, as they take a stand against everything around them and stay regardless of what it is happening around them. They let the world know that this is their home and they’ll remain regardless of what happens.

Sharing the stories with those in my life has made me realize how greatly a trip like this has a positive influence on others. My friends have all told me that this is something that they would love to. The majority of friends in my life work with disenfranchised people and are often champions for rights and equality as well. They have all wanted to hear about my trip and were eager to ask me how they could get involved themselves. Those who I had brief conversations with, have asked me to spend time with them again so they could know more about what has gone on and what I got to do over there. Seeing how genuine they were and how much they cared about what I did, made me feel really special and made me want to take them with me one day so we could make a difference together. My parents have always been very glad that I completed this trip and with my new job, they have commented on how much I’ve grown up in the last month and I completely owe my thanks to New Orleans. Each day I find something else I did or experienced there to share with people in my life, the trip as has given me ever lasting memories that I will continue to draw from and share with others. One thing that I’ve learned in my work with children and adults, is that even though we leave the lives of those we work with when the time comes, the most important part is developing that relationship in which we leave them with everlasting moments that they can draw on and use as they live their lives. Having experienced Nola made me feel like that has happened, those we’ve interacted with and helped, our relationship will last forever.

What hurts me the most after a trip like this continues to be the lack of progress that has occurred in New Orleans. Driving down the streets, it saddens me immensely that there is still so much land that remains empty. The government has found a way to drive away the poor people of New Orleans and have just left the land sitting there instead of putting it to good use and using the land to bring back the residents so that they may continue on with their lives. When I see places empty here especially in poorer neighbourhoods, I often think to myself why there isn’t a neighbourhood resource in this empty place to help the community and its residences. The trip to Magnolia was very uplifting for me because since I work with children with special needs and disabilities, it was great to see so many adults living semi independently and working together to achieve goals. Kind of made me think of how important it is to start young so that people can have better lives in the future. After the Magnolia visits and working with the people there, it made me that much more proud to be an individual who works with vulnerable people in our society. I would love to go back and do what I did, even though the trip has been over for a few weeks now everything still seems so fresh in my head and if I had the chance to go back tomorrow I would. What a life changing experience, I have told so many people and I’m continue going to share it with everyone not only to bring about change here but maybe over there as well. I hope people continue to do what we and countless others have done because only with action can something be truly done and the lives of others be truly improved. All it takes is one person to change the world and what better way to do it then in a group and working together with others who are there for the same reasons and that reason is to improve the lives of others.