Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 3

Always more to write ...
Despite getting caught at red lights, drivers driving too slow, GPS malfunctions..we made it on time today. As we drove through New Orleans past abandoned houses, stray animals, closed businesses I really was in shock, no words could describe what I was seeing. I could only imagine what the neighborhood
we were going to build at would looked like. Like I said we did arrive on time, in fact a few minutes early according to my watch.
Today my alarm went off at 5:45 am, I pressed the off button, without getting up, figuring someone in the group would wake me up. I was wrong. So around 6:05 am I had woken up to shuffling of sleeping bags and fellow group members in a panic that we had been running late. I had got up, we all had a quick breakfast. As we got into our vans (not having to worry about those Canadians and their flat tire this morning) we were off, to our first day of building. Not going to lie, I was nervous, no idea what to expect, or what the people would be expecting of me. We got there on time, a few minutes early according to my watch. We had got out of our vans and no sooner had we met Margret. Sweet, happy, and touching lady. Margret had told us how happy she was that all of these volunteers would be building in her neighborhood, and had willingly opened her house to all of the volunteers, including making lunch and supplying drinks and an air conditioned bathroom for the hundreds of volunteers if needed. I did go in her "house" which was a trailer not big at all. Margret had told us about all of the little things that she once had, and that even the littlest things that we would take for granted we shouldn't. After hearing personal experiences from Margret I was extremely touched. The rest of the day had went on, all I could think of was if I was taking the little things in life for granted. This made me work harder I was frustrated that all these people are basically homeless, and how most of us take our homes for granted. I just feel that no matter how much time an individual or group puts into helping, it will never be completely done, hoping more people will volunteer. We are helping and it's amazing. Just like this blog no matter how much I write there will always be more, and hoping more people will write. We are learning and it's amazing. -- Not Brittany Carmona

Inspired and making a difference ...
We have been here for about 3 days so far. These three days have been enough for me to realize that my small little boring city, Nashua, is the best thing in th world. I really never thought I would say this, "I MISS NASHUA!" I realized that we all have it so good. Just for the simple fact that I have a home that I can call my own. Yesterday we went to visit an elementary school, Andrew Jackson Elementary. There are over 1000 kids attending that school. The class that I went into had 24 kids. My math class has only 18. I saw how these kids are so young, so full of life, and yet they already have to worry about having a meal at home or, if they live in a trailer, hoping that it's still there, hoping that the government hasn't taken away. Today April 29, 2008 was the first day of our construction jobs. We met a woman named Margaret. This women went through Katrina, lost her home, a year later her son was killed. She lives a trailer; she only has a certain amount of time that she can live on this trailer. When this time is up, she will set up camp where her home used to stand. This woman fed us, she welcomed us into her home and had the courage to talk about her experiences and make people understand that help is still needed. She broke my heart and made me realize that she would give anything in the world to have the home that I, every single day complain about. We also met Jessica, one of the home owners that we built the floor for. I truly admire her because she doesn't look into the past; she looks into the future that she will have at her new home—the new home that she helped build for her kids. The one home that she can go into and call my own. Overall my day was pretty good, working in the hot sun. Do my hands hurt? Yes. Am I darker? Yes. Did I sweat and get bitten by a whole bunch of little insects? Yes. But you see all of that is worth it it because at the end of all of this I am going to make a difference. -- Maria Dominguez

New Orleans Shout Out ...
New Orleans... It has been an interesting trip so far. I'll start off by explaining my "exciting" flight. I have motion sickness. This, I did not prepare for. I basically had my head between my legs (deep breathing) throughout most of the flight. I even slept with my head on the tray table because Icouldn't sit upright. That was awesome fun (sarcasm is key here). So, besides the flight, being in New Orleans has been quite and experience. We've been to the center of the city to check out the shops and the food. I'm a pretty picky eater but, I tried Gumbo, Jambalaya (which is my dog's name), fried crawfish, fried catfish, and fried pickles so far. All of which I probably wouldn't have tried if i wasn't in New Orleans. Besides the flight here and the "day off" of roaming the city, building has been fun. I feel pretty manly as I wield my hammer 'n nails with my shades on and just a tad of sweat (to prove i did at least some type of work). It's also pretty cool to see my peers work. Usually I see them in class, sometimes sleeping during said class, or just outside of school just hanging out and not doing much at all. I thought I knew everything about them through that image. That thought has now changed. I've also never met most of the other students on this trip so my extended family has been "extended". Talking about extending my family, I am now part of a 6-member crew called The Vantastic Six... Thats all that can be said about that... What happens in New Orleans, Stays in New Orleans SIXIEEEEE! Shout out to my homiez Twiz, L Kat, J. Lizzle, V. Nasty & F.T. throw up ur V's!!!

One of the best parts of this trip so far has been when I met one of the homeowners that we were building for. Her name is Jessica. She's basically my home girl now. She was helping us build and everything. We worked as a team and we talked about Hip Hop and the art scene in New Orleans. For those who don't know, I've been rapping for six years and have been a dj for 3 so hearing what people thing about my type of music from a different part of the country is pretty exciting. I'm used to people talking about New York Hip Hop and enjoying it because we live near New York (in New Hampshire) but when I hear people from New Orleans talking about New York Hip Hop it makes me think about the impact Hip Hop has on everyone and how it can reach across the country and across the world. It's pretty cool, haha. But anyways, back to Jess, she's actually a muralist. When she told me that i asked if she could draw something on my shirt (i always have my sharpies) and she said, "Sure, give me the shirt for the night and i'll have somethin' for you tomorrow," the only problem was the shirt she was going to draw on, i was wearing, so she said taht she's going to bring me a shirt she made already to the build sight tomorrow! i can't wait! And obviously i had to break out my skills and i rapped for everybody while we did work. It was awesome.
All in all the trip is a "once in a lifetime" thing. I love it here and i have done some much already and its only been THREE DAYS!!! I plan to come back to do more later on in my life. They estimated that it would take another 25 years to completely rebuild New Orleans. This means i still have 25 years of work to do! They'll see me back, no doubt.
-- Joe Harrington

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