As the date draws near my emotions aboutNew Orleansare mixed. I so enjoyed the readings and documentaries we have been assigned for the educational component of this course and have found inspiration in the way the class has come together as a team to raise funds for the trip. Getting through my scheduled exams over the next few weeks is the barrier that keeps my excitement contained. Life has come to exist in two time periods, before NOLA and after NOLA. I am looking for a job, but will resume the search when I get back fromNew Orleans. Travel insurance; fetch the small black suitcase from storage, new memory chip for camera, beforeNew Orleans.

 Being away from my children for two weeks will be difficult. My older son, Sam will be coming home fromLondonfor the summer once his exams are over. Leaving my younger son, Rhys will be a bit more difficult. He is 17 and still lives with me. Rhys is very pale in complexion, shaves his head, wears hoodies and his pants “down around his arse” as his English father would say.

 As the mother of two sons I have been following the Trayvon Martin case with almost obsessive intensity. A `17 year old boy was gunned down as he returned from his father’s house with a can of coke and a pack of skittles in his hand. Just as my son does every Sunday evening after enjoying a family meal, stopping to pick up a less than healthy snack on the way.  Witnesses heard screams for help followed by a gun shot, this was captured on a 911 emergency call, Martin’s mother recognized the voice as her son’s. A mother should never hear this…..

 Thinking back to the 1992 Rodney King riots, I wondered how the public would react had Zimmerman not been charged with manslaughter. The “Million Hoodie March” was an indicator that awareness was heightened. How wouldFlorida,AlabamaandLouisianareacted? How far have we as a human race come in 20 years?

 The disaster surrounding Katrina was as much a disaster in the way poor, black people are treated in the south as it was an assault on the environment.  World wide sociology students learn about this issue, just as we do.

 I am excited to be a part of the goodness that has come out of Katrina, the humanitarian effort that so many people like us have taken part in. A few years ago a friend of mine at Ryerson went toNew Orleansas part of this INT course. When I heard it was still offered, to be honest I naively thought “why ?”. Hadn’tNew Orleansbeen rebuilt already? I am saddened that there is a need for us to go at all. But, also know I will return with a deep connection with those that continue the struggle for social justice in the south.

Looking forward to our journey,

Sarah Lynch