A New Orleans House Raising Party! Wednesday, Feb 22 2012 

Hello friends,

If you are in Toronto on Sunday, March 4, 2012, from 2 to 5 pm, please come to an all ages salon fundraiser taking place at Quinn West, 1479 Queen Street West.  You are invited to participate in a Cajun and Zydeco music workshop hosted by Dave Clark and members of The Uplifters.  A silent auction from 2 to 4:30 pm will feature fine art donated by local artists Matt James, Melinda Josie and Chris Buchan, certificates for massage therapy and for a jewelry making class from the Organic Metal Gallery, drum lessons from Dave Clark, a haircut from Quinn West and more.  Cajun jambalaya and corn bread will be served and a bake sale will include red velvet cupcakes, pecan tarts and chocolate cake.

For more information contact:

Anne Zbitnew  anne.z@sympatico.ca

Cynthia Ravindran cmravindran@sympatico.ca



FUNdraisers! Monday, Feb 20 2012 


Group work is a very valuable exercise and can offer the opportunity for team building, sharing the workload, developing the art of compromise and patience, exercising flexibility, initiating innovative ideas, opinions and discussion and can reinforce organizational, listening and communication skills.  Our NOLA group ­continues to band together on fundraising projects with inspiring vision in the spirit of collaboration.

On February 18, 2012, we hosted a Mardi Gras themed event at the Ryerson pub with live music by The Woodshed Orchestra.  Inspired by “a bowlful of New Orleans second line, some essence of Randy Newman and a good measure of Howlin’ Wolf”, the Woodshed played for 2 hours offering a New Orleans soundtrack to this very successful fundraising event. 

On Facebook, our class organized a very successful silent auction of solicited, donated items including: a cell phone, dinner packages, sports equipment and much more.  Everyone participated by decorating the pub with purple, green and gold (the official colours of Mardi Gras), by making posters, blowing up (and popping!) balloons, inviting friends and family and working the door and silent auction table. 

We have just over a month left to fundraise for our NOLA trip.  With 2 bake sales, this event and more to come, I think we are well on our way to establishing the strong bonds of friendship and have proven our commitment to hard work.





Look out…she’s NOLA bound! Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

Natalie at the Georgia/Alabama State Line November 2011

Hello gorgeous! I am Natalie Morning, and like many of my toronto2NOLA peers I am new to the “blogosphere”.  I am a fourth year student at Ryerson University who is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Psychology.

I have always had a strong interest in philanthropy and hospitality and hope to one day make non-profit efforts my career.  I love travel, am an avid volunteer and work with children as a Nanny in Toronto.  I currently volunteer for the CALIPER project at SickKids Hospital, the Leading to Reading program at the Toronto Public Library, multiple branches of the Irish Cultural Society of Canada and the 2012 Ryerson Human Rights Watch Film Festival.  I hope to one day get my Master’s degree in the Communication and Culture program at Ryerson.

On a more personal level I am an energetic, lover of music and arts, member of an LGBT family, feminist, vintage fashion bargain hunter, dog enthusiast, literature obsessed 23 year old professional goofball.  I have a passion for equality and human rights and this has only grown stronger during my time at Ryerson.

I am so excited and honored to be a part of the CINT 912 Community Building Experience!  I cannot wait to arrive in New Orleans.  I am a people person and am committed to the idea of making a difference…even if it is one smile at a time.  I am so deeply touched by the braveness and perseverance of the people of New Orleans and I am excited to experience the culture of the city.  I am looking forward to being on a field placement and engaging in more hands on volunteer efforts.  I cannot wait to meet the people of New Orleans and I know that I will learn so much from them.  I am also hoping to learn more about myself through my interactions there.

In typical New Orleans style there is always a silver lining and aside from the more serious and emotional field work I am excited to immerse myself in the music culture, taste new foods, see landscape far outside what I’m used to and make new friends.

My flight is booked…come with me and share the journey!

NOLA Bound Baby!- Elena’s First Nola Blog Entry Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

Hey ya’ll, can you tell that I’m already excited for New Orleans? First and foremost, a warm hello to everyone out there reading my blog. I should start by saying that this is not the first time that I have blogged but I still consider myself a bit of a “noobie” to the blogging world as it was only recently that I started my own, so here goes.
My name is Elena Cifuentes.  I am 22 and currently in my fourth year at Ryerson University majoring in Sociology. I enjoy spending any free time that I have with my family, friends, and boyfriend as I feel that maintaining a healthy balance and bonds among those of importance in one’s life is key to staying happy. Some of my hobbies include painting, singing and writing. When I found out that I was going to be a part of this class I was ecstatic and excited for a myriad of reasons but the few that come to mind include: the friendships and relationships I am going to make not only with my fellow peers and profs but with those we as a class will be working alongside and helping out while in New Orleans.
I was also thrilled when I found out I was accepted to be enrolled in a class that offered both in class and experiential hands on learning will allow me to apply the knowledge I will receive inside the classroom, being able to make sense of it while abroad. I believe the experiential component of the course will give context to what is being taught as well as provide me with a greater understanding, appreciation, and meaning to what I am learning. Lastly, I also wanted to take this course because I LOVE to travel and when I found out that part of the course took place abroad in New Orleans there was no question that I had to be apart of it. New Orleans is a place that I have always wanted to visit, so no time like the present right?
I hope to learn and gain an abundance of new skills, perspectives, insights, and ideas while on this trip. I think that I will gain a lot personally from this experience in terms of growth as a person but also knowledge, which I will in turn be able to share with others. With my flight booked and the course already under way, the countdown begins.
After hearing stories, watching videos, and seeing photos from trips friends of mine had taken to New Orleans, it only heightened my eagerness and excitement to visit what seems like such a vibrant and culturally rich place. Despite all the hardships and disasters the city and its people have had to endure and face, it sounds as though the spirit of the city is still alive. I guess this is something I will have to see for myself and I’m very fortunate and blessed that I will get the opportunity to alongside one of my best friends Natalie and fellow peers. Until next time, I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Plato:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

It’s simple and to the point. Little acts of kindness can go a long way, and can make the difference in someone’s day.


Greetings from Nisha to YOU! :) Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

Hello to all the readers!

My name is Nisha Thomas and I am a third year Social Work student at Ryerson University. This is my first time ever writing a blog so hopefully this turns out okay! I am so excited to be going to New Orleans! Having never been away from home for more than 5 days, I already know this is going to be a very liberating (and maybe a little bit scary) experience!!

I had heard about this course and the NOLA trip last year when a couple of my friends had been accepted. Ever since then, I have always wanted to do this. In my first year, I had learned that Hurricane Katrina was not simply just the “natural disaster” that I had perceived it to be. After attending class this past weekend, the knowledge I learned from just those few hours is incredible! Once, I learn (and sometimes un-learn) something, I simply cannot ignore it! Nothing will be able to compare to the actual experience of being there though. I am more than ready to witness, experience and live the New Orleans culture. Not just the culture, but gain a first hand understanding of the lived realities of individuals affected. I can already feel it, my life is about to change.

This is all becoming so much more of a reality as I booked my plane ticket yesterday! Thank you Pascal and Tanya for this opportunity!! I can’t wait to share it with everyone!!

P.S. – In regards to the photo, I work at a portrait studio part-time! I have somewhat made it my goal to take “a holiday photo” as often as I can (or as often as holidays come) …and get my personal/political agenda out there. It may be dorky, but even if people just think about it for a minute, you never know what it could do!


NOLA Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 


Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?! Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

Hi ya’ll! My name is Melanie, and I am studying Social Work at Ryerson.

I come from a family of philanthropists, and have been involved in the ‘helping field’ from a young age. I was born and raised in British Columbia, and helped my parents run a dinner cafe for youth experiencing homelessness in downtown Vancouver. I also accompanied them to a small island in the Caribbean called Dominica, where we lived for three months and were involved with community development. These experiences, and others like them, have created awareness and perspective that I hold in great value.

Like many of my classmates, I am also passionate about travelling! I love experiencing new things, seeing new sights, and living every moment! I feel so blessed to be involved in our trip to NOLA. I have such an empathetic heart for the Katrina survivors, and am excited to meet and listen to their stories of resilience and adaptation. Oh, and then you throw in…homestyle southern cookin’…Wetlands…Plantations…JAZZ FEST…Vibrant culture and history…The freakin’ Mississippi…AND,  New Orleans is also home to fitness guru Richard Simmons! How can you go wrong? Looking forward to sharing this adventure with you all!   

Bring on the gumbo!

Who IS that girl named Fleur? It’s me! Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

Hi everyone! Yes, cheesy title, I know, but it did catch your attention, didn’t it? So, as you may have guessed, my name IS Fleur and I’m a graduate of the Nutrition and Food program at Ryerson. After graduating from the program, I decided to work in the pharmaceutical industry. Then, in 2009, after much planning and over-analyzing, I finally took the major leap and decided to return to school full time to obtain a Registered Dietitian designation and/or a Masters in Health Science. It is my goal to complete advanced studies in this amazing field (Nutrition) and I don’t want to be limited in any professional (and personal) capacity! So, I sold my house in Toronto, quit my job, and moved back in with my parents so I can have the means to fulfill this dream. Let me tell you, it has been one eye-opening and exciting journey!

In addition, I am also completing a Certificate in Food Security. Community development, health promotion, and food security have always been interests of mine and finally, after studying the many community-based courses I enjoyed and volunteering in various community agencies, I now have the opportunity to participate in a community development project. Travelling to New Orleans allows me to obtain the hands-on experience I longed for and it is my hope that this is only the first of many international volunteer experiences. I am so excited to play a part in this project and consider myself  very privileged to have such an opportunity!

Sooooo, please subscribe to our blog and enjoy our updates! This will definitely be one exciting adventure 🙂


IMG-20110708-00197 Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 


We’re goin to NOLA, baby! Wednesday, Feb 8 2012 

Heyy Internet

 This is my first time ever blogging so it might be kind of awkward but here goes!

 My name is Marlee and I am in my third year at Ryerson studying social work. I think

social work is the most suitable career choice for me because I love to help people in

any way possible.

 I first applied for the Community Field Experience in New Orleans for the summer

of 2011. When I was rejected I was sad but promised myself I’d be on it for the

following year. When I applied again and rejected yet again I was crushed. Basically,

what I’m getting at is that I would just like to thank whoever dropped out (hope it

wasn’t anything awful) and opened up a spot for me on this amazing experience. I am

so incredibly thrilled to be able to participate in something like this; something that

seemed impossible growing up in my little bubble of Thornhill, Ontario.

 All my life, my overbearing (yet very loveable) parents tried to protect me from any

type of harm and pain, including that of others. Now that I am a little bit older I want

to acknowledge what is around me and hopefully make a change instead of shying

away from those less fortunate. I hope that New Orleans will give me a new perspective

on things. Not sure what I want those things to be yet, but I know that I am ready for

a change in my life and feel as though assisting others in a positive way will help me

develop myself more as a person. Become “more worldly” I suppose.

 I love to travel (although the farthest I have gotten is Florida) and experience new things. Although I’m not the best storyteller I like to share everything I do with everyone I know.

 Also, I am turning 21 RIGHT before the trip. Fate? I think so.

 Now, what to pack?


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