Welcome to my blog! My name is Maria and I’m one of the lucky few who are taking part in Ryerson’s 2012 Community Field Experience in New Orleans. I’d love to say I’m a seasoned blogger but, truthfully, this is my first one! The aim of this platform is to share my thoughts, questions, knowledge and insight on my upcoming New Orleans trip! This May, a group of 22 multi-disciplinary students and I are heading to New Orleans, Louisiana to aid in post-Katrina and BP Oil Spill relief efforts. Over the next few months, we will be fundraising, publicizing and educating as many people as possible on our goals for the trip, as well as share some bits of New Orleans from our studies that may be new to some of you.
As a 3rd year Criminology student at Ryerson University, I’m no stranger to being exposed to new and unfamiliar material. The vast majority of my studies include learning about people, places and circumstances that I have never seen nor experienced before. And while theoretical knowledge is useful in many academic respects, I find that some of the best learning experiencing I’ve had were the ones where I got my hands dirty, so to speak.
While this is my first time to New Orleans, I participated in a similar trip, a few years ago. In 2006, a group from my community and I ventured to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and assisted in relief efforts in some of the area’s poorest villages. We met the locals, listened to their stories and had the opportunity to do some really great work with some wonderful people who just needed a few sets of extra hands to get by. It gave a group of small town kids the opportunity to connect with people that we would have, otherwise, never had the privilege of meeting and connecting with.
Trips like these bridge gaps, open minds and allow for a deeper understanding of cultural, economic and environmental issues around the globe. I’m sure our two weeks in NOLA will fly by, but I intend to soak in as much of the experience as possible. I believe it’s important for our NOLA group to understand the hardships that the community of New Orleans have undergone as a result of Katrina and the BP Spill. However, I also think it’s equally as pressing to work together and formulate plans that will aid in regaining their sense of pride in their community to move towards a brighter future. My upcoming New Orleans experience is one that I’ve been pining for since getting accepted into the course, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to not only be a part of it, but to share my reflections and experiences with all of you, along the way.